Stott etches name into Philly postseason lore with grand slam

October 5th, 2023

PHILADELPHIA -- When the words "bat spike" are mentioned in Philadelphia, one image immediately comes to mind for Phillies fans: Rhys Hoskins' epic moment in Game 3 of the 2022 National League Division Series.

After Wednesday night, however, you might need to be more specific.

channeled his “inner Hoskins” after smashing a sixth-inning grand slam to blow the game open in the Phillies' 7-1 NL Wild Card Series-clinching victory over the Marlins in Game 2 at Citizens Bank Park.

"I didn't really know I even did the bat spike -- [Garrett Stubbs] told me," Stott said. "I don't usually pimp home runs. I don't think I hit them far enough to do that. So I just kind of got caught up in the moment, I guess."

It's hard to blame him.

It was not only Stott's first career grand slam, but it was his first postseason homer of any kind. It was just the second playoff slam in franchise history, along with Shane Victorino's memorable shot off the Brewers' CC Sabathia in Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS.

Not to mention, Stott had hit only one home run in his past 28 games dating to the regular season.

"He'd been struggling a little bit," manager Rob Thomson said of Stott, who hit just .181 in 25 September games. "But to get the ball in the air, because he hadn't hit a home run in a while, I think it was big for him."

For Stott, it went way beyond one home run.

After coming up short in last year's World Series, Stott went home and rewatched every Phillies postseason game. One of the things that immediately jumped out to him was that he wasn't doing enough against fastballs -- and he was having plenty thrown his way.

Stott hit just .209 with a .324 slugging percentage against fastballs during the 2022 regular season -- and that accounted for 64.3% of the pitches he faced. Seemingly taking note of those struggles, opposing pitchers upped that percentage to 72.3% in the postseason.

Stott went just 2-for-27 against fastballs in the playoffs, including 0-for-10 in the World Series. He particularly struggled against fastballs up in the zone.

"Last year it was a tough go with the fastball," Stott said. "It didn't take much rewatching of film to kind of realize what I needed to do in the offseason. And just getting with [hitting coach Kevin] Long and my [batting practice] thrower back home, it was throw [fastballs] up."

The results during the regular season spoke for themselves.

Stott hit .303 against fastballs in 2023 and raised his slugging percentage against those pitches more than 100 points to .437.

And now, a monumental postseason grand slam -- on a 94.5 mph belt-high four-seamer inside off the plate.

“Just amazing," said Alec Bohm, who was drafted in the first round in 2018 -- one year before the Phillies used their first-round pick on Stott. "He’s a guy who shows up every day and he just plays the game. To come up through the Minors with him and watch how slow his heartbeat is and how he handles those at-bats, he’s just a great player.

"It’s been fun to watch him and share the field with him and to see him have that moment tonight.”

Stott’s leap this season extends far beyond his approach against fastballs. In the field, he racked up 17 Outs Above Average, third most among all second basemen despite it being his first full season at a new position. Stott also raised his average 19 points against lefties.

Oh, and Stott’s grand slam?

It came off Miami left-hander Andrew Nardi, making it just the seventh lefty-on-lefty grand slam in postseason history -- and just the second in the past 25 postseasons.

“That’s kind of been the underlying factor for all of our young guys is that one, they got the experience last year, but then they used it and took that next step to be really great players,” Kyle Schwarber said. “Bryson was the prime example of it tonight. In a big moment, he wasn’t fazed by it at all, and he put a hell of a swing on a tough pitch and put the nail in the coffin.”

Stott also put his name on a list of the Phillies’ most iconic postseason homers, the perfect culmination of all the extra work that resulted from those film sessions last November.

Turns out he’ll also need to rely on the highlights to relive the biggest moment of his career.

“I don't really have much memory of the swing and stuff like that,” Stott said. “I know I yelled at the dugout and I couldn't really hear myself, so I knew the crowd was loud.

“It's just -- I mean, I wouldn't want to play anywhere else.”