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Alec Bohm could easily be a top-10 third baseman in 2021 fantasy baseball

The young slugger hit .338 with four homers in 2020, but did so with a +50% ground ball percentage. With a few adjustments, he could find another gear.

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

From a fantasy baseball perspective, we can firmly say that Alec Bohm’s first season was a success. He batted .338 with four home runs, 24 runs scored, 23 RBI and a stolen base for good measure—all this in 44 games.

According to Yahoo, he finished as the 14th-ranked third baseman, which is very good considering the fact that he played in roughly 75% of his team games.

At 24 years old, Bohm remains one of the most promising fantasy assets at the hot corner, especially in dynasty leagues. However, it’s fair to wonder if he can hold that high batting average over the long haul.

Alec Bohm’s batting average outlook

History suggests that batting .338 is hard even for the best hitters in the game. In Bohm’s case, Statcast tells us that his expected batting average (xBA) was .286, so clearly, he overperformed that specific stat.

Bohm had a .410 BABIP, and over his larger sample of games in the minor leagues (63 in Double-A in 2019) he had a .269 batting average. Expecting a +.310 BA in 2021 would probably lead to disappointment.

But hey! Don’t panic yet. Bohm’s average is bound to come down, but I would bet on his power production to go up. It’s a tradeoff I would take, personally.

What about his power?

Bohm has power. In his brief 2020 cameo with the Phillies, he had a 10.3% barrel rate, a 90.2 MPH average exit velocity, and a 46.8% hard-hit rate. His isolated power, or ISO (slugging percentage minus batting average) last season was a low .144, but in that 2019 stint at Double-A it was a much better .231. He hit 14 homers in 63 games back then.

The key to Bohm maximizing his fantasy value would be tapping into his considerable raw power. And to do that, he needs to lift the ball more, like he did in 2019 at Double-A.

That year, Bohm hit 18.1% of liners, 41.2% of grounders, and 40.7% of fly balls. That’s close to a perfect batted ball profile, although more liners would have been nice.

In 2020? More than half of Bohm’s batted balls were grounders, at 53.2%. He did hit more liners, at 21.4%, and he hit fly balls just 25.4% of the time. He won’t be hitting 25-30 homers with a 25% fly ball rate.

The good news is that 2020 was Bohm’s first season in the bigs. He skipped Triple-A altogether, so it was a big jump in competition level for him. Some struggles were to be expected. Fantasy owners should be thankful that they were reflected more in his batted ball profile than in his overall performance.

I would expect Bohm’s GB/FB rate to start showing more fly balls as he grows accustomed to major league pitching. Here is his minor league batted ball profile, courtesy of Fangraphs:

With a few mechanical adjustments and more familiarity with opposing hurlers, plus natural regression towards the tendencies that he showed over a larger sample, I would expect fewer grounders and some more flies, which would mean more homers.

Bohm has untapped potential

To sum up, I would expect Bohm’s average to come down to earth, but it won’t completely tank because of his respectable contact skills (76.8% contact%, 11.0% SwStr%, 87.9% Z-contact% in 2020.) A batting average between .280 and .290 seems reasonable.

Additionally, I would predict Bohm’s power output to rise in Year 2 in the bigs. He finished 2020 on a 15-homer pace, but I think he can take it up a notch in 2021, probably closer to 25 in a 162-game season, and with the potential for a few 30-homer campaigns at his peak.

The opportunities for runs and RBI are there, as he is part of a good lineup with several OBP studs in Philadelphia.

In other words, I believe the AVG-for-HR tradeoff can put Bohm inside the top-10 when it comes to third basemen for fantasy. He makes for a safe investment in both redraft and dynasty formats, as his floor is relatively high and he still hasn’t approached his ceiling.