1987 Minnesota Twins World Series Anniversary Profile: Tom Brunansky
With the celebration of the Minnesota Twins’ 1987 World Championship this weekend, let’s look at the big bopper in right field
This weekend, the Minnesota Twins will be honoring the 1987 World Series championship team. As we get ready for that weekend, we at Puckett’s Pond want to highlight some of the best players and moments from that season.
We’ll start today with one of the biggest bats on that team, Tom “Bruno” Brunansk
Tom Brunansky was originally drafted by the California Angels in the 1st round of the 1978 draft and made his major league debut with the Angels before being traded to the Twins in a four-player deal in May of 1982. He was installed almost immediately as the Twins right fielder, and put up numbers that were good in his day, but would be even more appreciated in modern day stats, as he was a consistent low-strikeout guy with good walk totals, even as a slugger.
Brunansky had his first 30 home run season for the Twins in 1984 and make the All Star team for the American League in 1985, representing the Twins in the All-Star game in the Metrodome that season. Interesingly, it could be argued that either his first season in Minnesota (1982: .272/.377/.471, 20 HR, 30 doubles) or his final full season in Minnesota (1987: .259/.352/.489, 32 HR, 22 2B, 11 SB) was his best season as a Twin, bookending a solid career for the Twins that saw him hit 163 home runs for the organization.
On the 1987 team, the Minnesota Twins had three 30-home run hitters. They would not have another 30 home run hitter for almost 20 years, in 2006. Brunansky had 32 in 1987.
Brunansky had an excellent eye at the plate, but a very long swing, and he was prone to hot and cold streaks because of the long swing. However, the interesting thing about Brunansky’s 1987 season compared to most of the rest of his career was just how consistent it was. After a cold April (.648 OPS) and a hot May (1.001 OPS), Brunansky was between .802 and .877 the last four months of the season, with 6, 5, 6, and 5 home runs in the four months, respectively.
Brunansky was nearly a one man wrecking crew against the Detroit Tigers in the American League Championship Series in 1987. He hit .412/.524/1.000 over the 5 game series with 2 home runs, 9 RBI, 4 doubles, and a 4/3 BB/K ratio, which is unheard of for a slugger!
He cooled off some in the World Series, but he still had a 4/4 BB/K ratio for a slugger, which is very impressive in the heat of the playoffs.
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The Cardinals were obviously impressed by Brunansky in the World Series in 1987, and about two weeks into the 1988 season, Brunansky was traded by the Twins to the Cardinals for second baseman Tom Herr. Herr had been a very steady second baseman, but he struggled in Minnesota and was shipped off in the next offseason for pitcher Shane Rawley.
Brunansky lasted roughly a season and a half with the Cardinals before he was traded for Lee Smith in a deal that sent a need to two playoff contending teams. Brunansky sparked the Red Sox to the playoffs against the eventual AL Champion Oakland Athletics. He resigned in Boston to continue his career there, but injuries kept him from ever being fully healthy and tapping completely into his power again in the same wasy, and by 1994, he was out of baseball at age 33.
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Brunansky coached in high school for a number of years before working in the Twins minor league system in the early 2010s, working his way up to the hitting coach for the Minnesota Twins from 2013 until he was let go after the 2016 season.