Bryson Stott, .300 hitter? He’s sure looking like one originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — “You guys here to talk to Arraez?” Phillies backup catcher Garrett Stubbs joked as a group of reporters gathered around Bryson Stott’s locker in the visiting clubhouse at Tropicana Field Wednesday night.
Stubbs was, of course, referencing Marlins infielder Luis Arraez, who has hit .384 this season to lead the majors. Stott hasn’t done that sort of damage, but a 4-for-5 night in an 8-4 win over the Rays raised his batting average to .304 on the season.
Stott scored twice and drove in a run Wednesday as the Phillies pounded out 17 hits and became just the second team this season to win a series over the Rays in Tampa.
“I think comfort level has a lot to do with it,” manager Rob Thomson said. “I think he’s fouling off a lot more balls this year, making pitchers work and come to him. He’s barreling up more balls this year.
“He can hit, he really can. I just hope he keeps it going.”
Stott has the look of a .290-to-.300 hitter. He has a line-drive approach, hits the ball to all fields, works counts, spoils pitchers’ pitches to extend at-bats and has a two-strike approach that has been among the best in baseball all season. He’s led the majors in two-strike hits since April.
“Kind of just using the whole field,” Stott said. “Got into a little thing where I was hitting the ball to the second baseman a lot and didn’t like that.
“(Hitting coach) Kevin Long came to Vegas in the offseason and just kind of talked through some things, what I was missing and what I was hitting. He said you never want to take someone’s strength away to close a hole in their swing, but to kind of focus on my left hand a little more. Last year, I would kind of swing from the bottom of the strike zone up, so anything down was fine and anything up was not fine unless it was perfect timing, perfect spot on the bat. Just trying to clean up my swing a little bit and go from there.”
Stott has found a home in the six-hole in the Phillies’ lineup. The spot agrees with him. It creates a challenge for opposing pitchers who have just gone through the middle of the Phillies’ order, dealing with Nick Castellanos, Bryce Harper and JT Realmuto. Having to throw six, eight, 10 pitches to the pesky Stott after dealing with those big bats can tire out a pitcher and it has on many occasions already this season.
Stott and Alec Bohm had a nice little one-two punch going in Wednesday’s win. They hit back-to-back singles in the second inning and again in the fourth. Bohm walked in the seventh after Stott singled and stole second base.
“Bohm, you know he’s going to put the barrel on the ball more often than not, and I love it because it means I get to run if I’m on the bases,” Stott said. “Bohm’s leading the team in RBIs from the seven-hole. It just shows how many guys we have and where you can put people. Right now, it’s as deep as it’s been, just everybody kind of finding their groove.”
The Phillies strung four hits together in three separate innings Wednesday. They scored 19 runs on 18 hits Saturday. Their collective home run power has been disappointing, but they’ve also been less reliant on the longball to score and win games. They’re hitting .261, tied for fifth in the majors, but rank 18th in home runs.
“I still think of us as a power lineup but these guys can hit, too,” Thomson said. “Our batting average has been pretty good all year. We haven’t hit the home runs we think we’d hit, but I think they’re coming.”
The Phils are 46-39 after winning their series in Tampa. On Thursday afternoon, they look to become the first team in 2023 to sweep the Rays.
“Came down here and played our game, it’s been good,” Stott said. “Right now, we’re as deep as we’ve been, just everybody kind of finding their groove.”