Amidst the chaos surrounding the presidential election and the reveal of MLB’s Gold Gloves was a little tidbit that hitting coach Tom Brunansky and first-base coach Butch Davis won’t be rejoining the Twins for the 2017 season, according to the team.
I can’t really comment on the loss of Davis. Beyond holding runners’ protective equipment, deciphering third-base coach signs for disinterested players, and timing opposing batteries to see if a stolen base attempt is worthwhile, I’m not entirely sure of the purpose of a first-base coach so I have no opinion over losing him. However, the interesting news is the loss of Brunansky.
Despite the Twins being terrible for the most part over the past few years, Brunansky was given a vote of confidence from players as he was credited with providing a boost to the careers of Brian Dozier and Trevor Plouffe, for example. Additionally, the Twins ranked in the middle of the pack on offense according to wOBA and OPS while the pitching was terrible, so it’s interesting that Brunansky was shown the door while pitching coach Neil Allen remains. But, I will say that the Twins received disappointing seasons from Miguel Sano, Byung Ho Park, Plouffe, Eduardo Escobar, and Danny Santana, and I suppose that if new Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey couldn’t make a change at manager, he was going to flex his muscles on other parts of the coaching staff. After all, Allen was brand new and I bet he wasn’t going to get blamed for just one year when the Twins have a history of poor pitching staffs.
Back to Brunansky, Parker Hageman of Twins Daily pointed out that Brunansky had a different hitting philosophy than some of the more successful offenses in baseball. In particular what jumped out to me was that Brunansky chided the Toronto Blue Jays’ free-swinging ways, yet the Twins struck out one percentage point more than the Jays and walked two percentage points less this past season. I will say though that Brunansky seemed to embrace hitters doing what worked for them (i.e. Trevor Plouffe’s leg kick), though the Twins toying with someone like Byron Buxton demonstrated a philosophy that apparently hasn’t gone away since the days of David Ortiz.
I’m not exactly sure who I would want to replace Bruno. I mean, Barry Bonds is available, but there’s no way the Twins would hire him (nor do I even know if he would be a good hire). It appears as though Derek Falvey’s first big decision after hiring Thad Levine will be to start remaking the coaching staff.