It took me a while to pass my spellcheck when attempting to type out the word ‘bombardier’, but you know, I got 99 first world problems, and spelling is definitely won. Making puns? Most likely a problem, but we’ll say it’s a solution, if only to caress my ego the way your mother does. Which brings us to the point (does it?) that Alec Bohm seems to be a pretty good baseball player. Hot takes all around! With the Phillies trying to hold onto any semblance of sneaking into the playoffs (not looking good as of this writing), there’s a hype train that’s been travelling in and around Philadelphia, and its final destination looks to be Rookie of the Year, with, of course, nonother than Bohm at the steering wheel. Yes, it was a whole sentence dedicated to a train metaphor, and no, I’m not sure if they have steering wheels or not. I assume they have some kind of steering mechanism, but there are only so many things I can nerd out to in this life, and it turns out my niches are essentially science fiction and sports. Trains go choo choo, that’s all I know and I’m stickin’ to it. That being said, now that I know how to spell bombardier and create a work of art such ‘Bohmardier’, we’re going to ride this sustainable peak right into the analyzations, procrastinations, and other multi-syllabic words that mean to say that Alec Bohm is a good baseball player now, but will it last as we hopefully move into a more normal future? And you know, the whole point of the pun, where are the bombs? Let’s find out after the jump!
Before we get to the nitty-gritty, I wanted to quickly talk about his availability, which seems surprising when you look at the numbers. As of this writing, Bohm is ready to be picked up in around 50% of leagues that rhyme with fah-hoo and, um, well, does ESPN rhyme with ESPN? I’ll let the real scholars handle that existential question. But for a dude that’s hitting 338/404/483 and hitting .370 with 16 RBI’s in September, this seems more like our fault than his. Considering that he was considered a top-50 prospect at the bare minimum coming into this year (and generally in the top-20 of some lists), the fact that we haven’t caught onto this performance is perplexing in itself. Especially when you consider the fact that this season seems like there’s a dearth of talent available at the hot corner due to injuries.
As a prospect, the only major concern was a potential lack of power in Citizens Bank Park. This concern was directly from Bohm only managing 14 home runs in 63 games at his Double-A affiliate in Reading, a location known to be somewhat of a launching pad, but his BB/K was at a very acceptable 0.80 range. There was also minor concerns about his ability to stay at third base or anywhere on the field with middling athleticism (standing at 6’5″ and 240 lbs), but as we’ve learned throughout the history of the universe, if you can hit, you can field. Even if you can’t field. My own conclusions thus far are that even if he hadn’t shown power in the minor leagues, Bohm is a big guy, and science dictates that big guys can hit the ball hard. Can’t argue with science!
But alas, despite having such a big frame, being a big guy, and making adjustments to tone down his uppercut-heavy swing, we still only have four homeruns produced in 42 games, which would just be around 15 in a normal 162-game full season. However, using that same litmus, he would have hit nearly 40 doubles as well, an encouraging sign. Still, with an ISO of .146, that puts him in the area of Donovan Solana to Erik Gonzalez. That’s a big yikes.
Getting to it though, we’ll rummage around his numbers and see what’s happening, and ultimately try to tackle on where his profile will end up. Normally I would go through his career and last year’s production to compare with, but because of his rookie status, we’ll have to get creative. So instead of offering up a complete profile, I want to highlight some interesting stats that conveniently play into my own narrative. Hey, I’ll never lie to you baby. (Famous last words.)
Let’s take a look at his plate discipline, a subject we spent a little bit of time on above. First up, his 9.4 BB% and 20.5% K% are completely acceptable, and in fact, are a great sign that he knows what he’s doing at the plate. Ignoring the rather high .412 BABIP for a minute, his O-Swing stands at 29.6% and SwStr sits at 11.1%. Why one is standing and one is sitting, I have no idea, but maybe his Swinging Strike Percentage is just tired? For comparison’s sake, and I don’t make this comparison lightly, but plenty of experts have compared, at least his swing, to that of Kris Bryant. During Bryant’s breakout rookie year, his 11.8 BB% and O-Swing of 30.2% and 13.3 SwStr % gives us some confirmation that Bohm is handling himself well, sans the power difference. Keep in mind also that Bryant sustained a career-high .378 BABIP in that 2015 season, yet was able to add nearly 20 points to his batting average a year later with a deflated BABIP of .332. Bohm’s plate discipline is solid as a rock, and looks to be a solid skill that will always keep him productive at the plate.
But now comes the question of power. And looking at his batted ball, the 21.2 LD %, 52.5 GB %, and his 26.3 FB % is not a split you want to see if you want to be a bombardier. Title tie-in alert! While I like the fact that he’s not a pull hitter, going 30.5/42.4/27.1 from left to right, most of his balls in play are stuck in the “Med%”, hitting a great 15.3 Soft % but a not so great 28.0 Hard %. But, if we look at Kris Bryant, his HR/FB in his first year was 15.8%, not a far cry from Bohm’s current 12.9%. The question lies in the ability for Bohm to hit the ball and elevate it, something that might have come at a cost of changing his swing mechanics.
I bet the Phillies are hoping that he’s a solid hitter first, and that the power will come later. Bohm is still just 24-years-old, and still has a long way to go from his potential peak years in 28-32, there is plenty of promise that the bombs will come. After all, his .522 xSLG this season says something, and while his 5.3 Launch Angle (11.9 MLB Average) needs some work, that work is not impossible. While I can’t read the organizational minds of the Phillies, when it comes to development, a lot of this stuff is abstract to writers and readers like us. I’d love to dial up Matt Klentak and verify that he’s registered to vote and then also suggest he try and get the team to work a bit more on Bahm’s swing. Alas, it doesn’t work like that, but hopefully it will. After all, the Phillies want him to succeed more than we ever could. And with the content I just provided, we can confidently proclaim that yes, Alec Bahm is a good baseball player. He is a good hitter. And I truly believe he’s here to stay.
Now, will he become a bombardier? Well, he can with a little more work and development, but even if still just ends up being a Bohmardier, that ain’t so bad either…
Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell. You can follow him @jaywrong.