Sophomore Slump: Alec Bohm is struggling to hit fastballs and find rhythm at the plate
After an amazing rookie season, it turns out that Alec Bohm is in fact, human. Bohm is currently working his way out of a sophomore slump that has left him batting .216 this season with a .578 OPS and 39 strikeouts in 37 games. Last Tuesday, Bohm was left out of the lineup before entering the game as a pinch hitter and delivering a key RBI double. Since then, he went 1-for-8 with four strikeouts in the final two games against the Washington Nationals.
The Phillies need to get some type of production from Bohm, who slashed .338/.400/.481 with a .881 OPS in 2020. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact issue with Bohm and why the sophomore slump curse has bit him hard through the first few months of the 2021 season, but let’s focus on him hitting fastballs.
According to FanGraphs, Bohm is seeing fastballs on 58.5 percent of his pitches this season, which is good for ninth-highest in baseball. It’s a seven percent increase from last year as well. Last season, Bohm hit .337 with a .500 slugging percentage against fastballs. This season, he’s just .200 with a .318 slugging percentage. His whiff rate has skyrocketed this year to 24.1 percent, nearly six percent higher than last season. In the strike zone, Bohm is only hitting fastballs at a .209 average this year compared to .364 last season.
Girardi has been on record saying that Bohm is making great contact and that the balls just aren’t finding holes in the outfield. If you watch Phillies games, you know there is some truth to that. The 24-year old has been swinging a more pitches inside the zone this season and less on pitches outside of the zone. Bohm certainly needs to work on his plate discipline and his walk numbers show it. Bohm has walked once in his last 77 plate appearances. He has struck out in 27 percent of his plate appearances, which is a 7 percent uptick from last year’s 20 percent.
You can’t just make the case that pitchers have thrown more fastballs or more breaking balls to Bohm since he has simply missed on so many pitches in the strike zone to begin with. One of Bohm’s biggest issues is right over the heart of the plate. However, there is no reason to panic. Bohm has been a tremendous hitter throughout college and the minor leagues. Hitting was the reason that he was able to progress so quickly to the majors. Bohm just needs to find ways to adjust as pitchers continue to adjust to him.
“I’ve gone through it a little bit in the minor leagues, but not when it’s this meaningful, I guess. We’re in all these close games. I really wanted to help. I think now I’ve got to just be myself and let it come.”
The Phillies will be back in action tonight in Dunedin, Florida to take on the Toronto Blue Jays at 7:35pm. Vincent Velasquez will be on the mound.
Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY