Chosen by his hometown California Angels in the first round of the June 1978 draft, Brunansky exhibited consistent, if unspectacular, power throughout his career. After a brief holdout while he considered attending Stanford University, Brunansky signed with the Angels after Richard Nixon, a close friend of team owner Gene Autry, helped negotiate a then-unheard-of $125,000 contract.
Brunansky played just 11 games for the Angels in 1981 before being traded with pitcher Mike Walters to the Twins for Doug Corbett and Rob Wilfong in May 1982. He was the rightfielder on the 1982 All-Rookie team and set a club record with 15 game-winning RBI the following year. One of seven players with 20 or more homers each season from 1982 to 1987 and one of six to play 150 or more games each of those six years, Brunansky’s power was hurt in the Metrodome, which favored left-handed pull hitters. He led all players in the 1987 ALCS in batting average, total bases, doubles, and RBI, and tied for the lead in runs, hits, and homers. He was also Minnesota’s active home run leader, fourth overall, when traded to St. Louis for Tommy Herr in April, 1988.
Initially shocked by the trade, Brunansky — who had been extremely popular with the fans in Minnesota — quickly made himself at home in St. Louis, smacking seven homers and driving in 34 runs in his first six weeks with the club. After the all-star break, however, Brunansky slumped mightily, hitting below .200 for the rest of the season. Fed up with his lack of production, the Cards shipped Brunansky to the Red Sox in exchange for closer Lee Smith in May 1990. There Brunansky enjoyed two plus solid, but not spectacular, seasons before moving on to Milwaukee in 1992. He retired after the 1993 season, having spent much of the past two seasons riding the bench, first with the Brewers and then the Red Sox.