“April is the cruellest month,” wrote Eliot in his Philadelphia Phillies notes for this season. (And yes, he doubled the “L” in the fourth word.) He could see, apparently, that the team’s Bryson Stott would be off to start that he cannot possibly keep up.
This is unfortunate, of course, because the Bryce Harper-less Phillies thus far are matching their terrible start of the 2022 season, which they largely overcame. By November.
Is Bryson Stott’s flashy start an illusion or not?
However, the Phils do seem to have made themselves, with hitting coach Kevin Long’s molding, a genuine major league hitter. Once Stott learned to keep his front leg relatively still, he suddenly became Chase Utley 2.0. He is now a compact-swing hitter who can go to all fields.
Thus far, Bryson Stott is merely leading Major League Baseball in multi-hit games, nine in the twelve he has played. His slash line, before play April 13, is a mere .420/.431/.500. He is also the first Phillies player since Puddin’ Head Jones to start a season with at least a 12-game hit streak. Jones hit in his first 16 games in 1950.
Stott has also posted a .931 OPS and driven in four runs, which would likely be a higher figure if he had not batted first, sixth, or eighth so often thus far.
In a way his torrid start is like Ryan Flaherty’s start in 2018. The Braves’ Flaherty was slashing .400/.516/.516 in early April. He had won a bench job with Atlanta, ironically, because he hadn’t won a job in the Phillies camp. This was despite hitting .351 in Florida. Stott only hit .211 in spring training this year, but it was never in doubt that he would be the team’s second baseman.
Stott is different than Flaherty in another way as well, however. In 2018, Flaherty was in his next to last season as an eight-year journeyman utility player. He ultimately finished that campaign hitting .217.
“I don’t think Bryson Stott is going to hit .422 this year,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson told a sports talk radio audience recently. However, it will be a surprise if Stott hits only .217 this season. It will be surprising if, like Eliot’s speaker in “The Waste Land,” he only sees April “breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire.”
Bryson Stott is only about to play in his 140th MLB game. He appears to be a young hitter very much just hitting his big-league stride.