March 10, 2023
The Phillies are in the midst of an important spring training. After finishing the 2022 season just two wins shy of a World Series title, the defending NL champions will have to quiet the doubters again — this time with an even higher payroll and tougher expectations to match.
Philly currently carries +1600 odds to win the World Series in 2023, the eighth best via OddsShark. They are third to win the NL East (+325) behind the Braves and Mets.
Before the team hits the field in Arlington to open their 2023 campaign against the Texas Rangers on March 30, we're going to take a deep dive into each positional group.
Due up today is third base...
Alec Bohm's 2022 season was headed for total disaster, but then he turned it into a major success.
Instead of folding after a three-error game and getting caught mouthing "I f***ing hate this place" in early April, the – at the time – struggling third baseman came completely clean about the whole situation, held himself accountable for it, and ultimately made a commitment to be better.
Fans appreciated the honesty, and the work that followed, it paid off.
In that first month of last season as a whole, Bohm went on to bat .308 with an .827 OPS, two homers, 14 RBIs, and seven walks. And for the year, he finished with a .280 batting average, a .713 OPS, 13 homers, and 72 RBIs on the way to the Phillies' first postseason appearance in over a decade and, soon after, the World Series.
His fielding got a lot better too.
Now, coming into 2023 with the Phillies looking to make their way back, Bohm is more confident than he's ever been, and a little bit bigger too.
Per The Athletic's Matt Gelb, the 26-year-old put on about 10 pounds of muscle during the offseason, adding more power with the aim that a more patient approach at the plate can make opposing pitchers' mistakes that much more costly.
“If I just let them throw me more mistakes, I think that takes care of itself,” Bohm told The Athletic. “Instead of going up there saying, ‘All right, I’m going to lift the ball more. I’m going to try to hit for more power. I’m going to try to hit home runs.’”
Bohm's only entering Year 4 of his major league career, but even so, he's been through the wringer already, and for the first time ever, he's entering a season where third base is unquestionably his.
He doesn't have to worry about cracking the roster or getting demoted anymore, just doing whatever he can to help the Phillies win.
And compared to the rest of the NL East, and assuming he continues to improve as he enters the prime of his career, Bohm could be one of the division's better third baseman.
In terms of straight-up power, and financial security, however, Atlanta's Austin Riley has him beat there – at least for now. The 25-year-old racked up 38 home runs in 2022 and signed a 10-year, $212 million contract midseason to stay with the Braves for the long haul.
Jean Segura, now with the Marlins, will more than likely remain a solid player for the next couple of years, but he's entering his mid-30s and is just now settling in at third to account for Luis Arraez at second and Jazz Chisholm's move into the outfield.
The Nationals, enduring a rebuild down in the NL East cellar, are running with former Tiger Jeimer Candelario after a down season.
And the Mets? Well, they're likely back to veteran Eduardo Escobar after they thought they were going to sign Carlos Correa, though prospect Brett Baty may also be waiting in the wings.
A comparison of their 2022 stats and (conservative) 2023 projections via Baseball Reference:
|Team||Third Baseman (Age)||2022 Stats||2023 Projections|
|Phillies||Alec Bohm (26)||.280/.315/.398|
13 HR, 72 RBI
12 HR, 63 RBI
|Braves||Austin Riley (25)||.273/.349/.528|
38 HR, 93 RBI
29 HR, 86 RBI
|Mets||Eduardo Escobar (34)||.240/.295/.430|
20 HR, 69 RBI
19 HR, 66 RBI
|Marlins||Jean Segura (33)||.277/.336/.387|
10 HR, 33 RBI
11 HR, 44 RBI
|Nationals||Jeimer Candelario (29)||.217/.272/.361|
13 HR, 50 RBI
13 HR, 54 RBI
Behind Bohm off the bench will be super utilityman Edmundo Sosa, who the Phillies expect to have all over the field this season.
Bryson Stott can also move over in a pinch, having played a couple of games at third last season, and probably Josh Harrison and whoever grabs one of the last two bench spots as well – whether it's Kody Clemens or, in the very off chance, maybe even Scott Kingery.
With the new rules on the shift, clubs' benches are going to have to be more athletic and just as flexible position-wise.
Looking into the future, the position should be Bohm's for years to come so long as he stays the course.
But as far as prospects go, the Phillies do have New Zealander Nikau Pouaka-Grego in the system, who as an 18-year-old international signee hit. 301 with an .890 OPS in rookie ball last season. Able to switch between second and third base, Pouaka-Grego is the 29th-ranked prospect in the Phillies' pipeline, but he unfortunately tore his ACL playing in the Australian Baseball League, which brought his development to a halt.
Third base right now exists very much in the present.
Follow Nick on Twitter: @itssnick
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports