Bryson Stott has improved dramatically since the Phillies fired Joe Girardi
Bryson Stott’s hot start to June coincides with one key change to the Philadelphia Phillies‘ dugout:
The firing of their manager, Joe Girardi.
Since the Phillies announced they were parting ways with Girardi on Friday, June 3, Stott has three home runs in five games; he’d gone homerless in the first 25 games of his big-league career, with only 11 hits.
The first home run of his career came in the Phillies’ first game without Girardi, on Friday night. His first walk-off home run came two days later. On Wednesday night, he hit his third.
By the end of Wednesday’s contest – which the Phillies won 10-0 – Stott had gone 4-for-4 with three runs scored and a pair of RBI; he’d never had more than a two-hit game before.
As if the rookie’s hot streak wasn’t impressive enough, all three of his first career home runs were hit with runners on base. It’s a welcome clutch factor for a team that often struggles with an inconsistent offense.
The obvious question is, would Stott and the Phillies be on this tear if Girardi was still at the helm?
For the several weeks that the former manager’s job security hung in the balance, many (myself included) argued that firing him wouldn’t solve all of the team’s problems. After all, the Phillies haven’t reached the postseason since 2011, and since firing Charlie Manuel, have gone through four managers, none of whom held the position for three full seasons.
But since replacing Girardi with his longtime coach Rob Thomson, the Phillies are undefeated. They’ve had two 10-0 shutouts in five games and are tearing the cover off the ball.
Part of Stott getting into the swing of things is the regular playing time, which was an issue in April and May. The Phillies entered the season with an overcrowded left side of the infield: Jean Segura, Didi Gregorius, Johan Camargo, Alec Bohm, and Stott. Despite proving he deserved to be on the big-league roster in spring training and having a two-hit game on Opening Day, Stott didn’t get regular playing time until some of the more veteran players got injured. Gregorius returned from the Injured List this week, but Camargo went on the IL this week, joining Segura, who will be out for months.
Stott only played nine games in April, none between April 20 and May 7, and only 15 games in the latter. Fans who watched the 2021 campaign were frustrated, but not surprised; Girardi drew criticism for not playing a struggling Bohm for a long stretch last summer, opting instead for the veteran utility man Ronald Torreyes. His comments about how he planned to use Stott earned him further ire and concern that he was incapable of managing rookies and young talent. Stott’s success since he’s been gone – albeit in small sample size – bolsters that hypothesis.
Eventually, the winning streak will come to an end, and Thomson won’t look like he had some secret formula that magically fixed the Phillies.
But even when that happens, in a way, it won’t matter. Girardi might not have been the Phillies’ common denominator of failure, but this week proves he was certainly part of the problem.