The Twins will have a new hitting coach in 2017, the team announced Tuesday, ending their association with former Twins All-Star Tom Brunansky.
Brunansky and first-base coach Butch Davis will not have their contracts renewed, but the rest of manager Paul Molitor’s staff, including pitching coach Neil Allen, bullpen coach Eddie Guardado and bench coach Joe Vavra will return.
New Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey made the decision Tuesday at the MLB general managers’ meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz., and informed Molitor and the coaching staff of his decisions.
“We have a staff that’s very talented, that works very hard,” Molitor said Monday at Falvey’s introductory press conference. “They’ve heard all my arguments. We’ve talked at length. Now they’ll put their heads together and decide who they want to keep.”
Also offered new contracts for 2017: assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez and third-base coach Gene Glynn.
Brunansky, whose seven seasons as a Twins player was highlighted by his selection to the 1985 All-Star team, served as Twins hitting coach for four seasons. The Twins never scored more than 722 runs in any of them, ranking below the AL average in three of his four seasons.
Some players flourished under Brunansky’s tutelage, with Brian Dozier crediting the 56-year-old coach for helping him develop the power that produced 42 home runs last season. But the Twins also ranked near the bottom of the AL in strikeouts in all four seasons, and ranked 10th or worse in the AL in batting average three of his four seasons.
Still, hitting was hardly the Twins’ most notable problem. The Twins allowed 889 runs in 2016, or 128 runs more than Oakland’s second-worst pitching staff in the AL. Yet Falvey and general manager Thad Levine were convinced to retain Allen and Guardado, who have handled pitching for Molitor for two seasons.
In addition to manning the first base coach’s box, Davis was in charge of outfield defense for the Twins, which was not a strength of the team in 2016.