Introducing… Tom Brunansky

One of the top right fielders of his day, Bruno was a solid power hitter and a well above average defender at his position.  Tom utilized a rifle-like throwing arm to rack up impressive outfield assists totals before runners learned not to test him.  A slugger in the batter’s box, Brunansky wasn’t a high average hitter like teammate Kirby Puckett but he was a fine power threat who drew his share of walks.  The right-handed hitter from West Covina High could swat twenty homers a season with little effort.

Originally drafted in the first round by his home state Angels in 1978, Bruno was called to the parent club in 1981 and blasted three homeruns in just eleven games at the end of the season.  California knew he had talent but the young up-and-comer came with red flags.  He hit for a low average and struck out a bit too much.  In his brief trial in ’81, Tom hit just .152 and fanned ten times in 33 at-bats.  The Angels opted to deal their former first rounder in the off-season to the Twins for Doug Corbett and Rob Wilfong.  Tom would eventually become an All-Star in Minnesota.

The Twins were beginning one of the game’s greatest youth movements in the early 1980s and Tom was a key ingredient.  After the trade he was inserted as the Twins everyday right fielder and responded with 20 dingers, a .272 batting average and a .377 on-base percentage.  The following year his BA and OBP plummeted but his power numbers and run production improved substantially.  He hit 28 homers and nearly doubled his RBI output from 1982.  In the pasture, Tom racked up 16 assists (4th in the AL). 

The Twins were a coming team in the mid 1980s and Tom was a big part of their rise in the standings.  In 1984 he reached a personal best with 32 homeruns.  In his All-Star year of 1985 he drove in 90 runs and posted his third straight season with 70 or more runs scored and 80 or more RBI.  After hitting 23 dingers in 1986 he blasted 32 to match his single season high as the Twins romped their way to the World Series.  At his best in the ALCS against the Tigers, Bruno blasted a pair of homers, drove in nine runs, hit .412 and posted an otherworldly 1.524 OPS.  He came back down to earth in the World Series but Minnesota beat the Cardinals in seven games.  But the next year he would be a member of the World Series losing Cardinals.

Shortly after Opening Day of 1988 Tom was dealt to the Redbirds for second baseman Tommy Herr.  Tom hit 22 homers for the Cardinals and paced NL right fielders in fielding percentage his first year in the National League.  For the eighth consecutive year in 1989, Bruno hit at least 20 homeruns.  But after a sluggish start in 1990, he was dealt to Boston for closer Lee Smith and his string of 20+ homerun seasons came to an end.  Although he remained a decent power threat, Brunansky would never reach 20 dingers again.  After driving in 74 runs for the Red Sox in ’92 he signed a free agent deal with the Brewers for the 1993 season.  Tom struggled in his brief tenure in Milwaukee and was traded back to Boston for journeyman catcher Dave Valle in 1994–his last season.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,800/R 804/H 1,543/2B 306/3B 33/HR 271/RBI 919/SB 69/BB 770/SO 1,187/BA .245/OBP .327/SA .434

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