Every few years or so, an unheralded player on a World Series team earns the title of World Series MVP: Rick Dempsey, Pat Borders, and Gene Tenace (before he became noteworthy) to name a few. Scott Brosius qualifies as one of those players. This is by no means an insult; this is a testament to his work ethic, mental makeup, and professional humility.
Chosen way down in the 20th round of the 1987 draft by the Oakland Athletics, Brosius defied the odds, earning his spot on a Major League roster eight days before his 25th birthday in 1991. He played 36 games that year, with two dingers and a .235 batting average. However, Brosius would be stuck in ML limbo, constantly optioned between the A’s and their Triple A affiliate. In 1994, he finally earned a concrete spot under Tony La Russa, and played in 96 games due to the strike-shortened season, hitting 14 homers. Up until this point, Brosius was a superutility player, who played all positions, save pitcher and catcher. Yet, his bat was relatively quiet, and his glove was inconsistent at shortstop and third base.
Once 1995 unfolded, Brosius was pushing 29 years of age with 240 games of experience. 123 games later, the platoon third baseman (with Craig Paquette) eclipsed the 100-hit plateau for the first time in his career. Brosius was poised to breakout. That postseason, La Russa was axed and replaced by Art Howe, and Paquette was released a few days before the start of Opening Day. It was Brosius’s job to lose. Despite playing in only 114 games, the third baseman (for good now) stroked 130 hits, 25 doubles, 71 RBI, and hit .304. Brosius also mashed 22 longballs on a powerful team that featured Mark McGwire (52), Terry Steinbach (35), Geronimo Berroa (36), and a pre-steroids Jason Giambi (20). Despite the offensive power, the A;s finished below .500 thanks to a pitching staff that surrendered 900 runs. Four starters had an ERA above 5.50.
As strong as Brosius was in 1996, he was equally as bad in 1997. In 129 games, he only batted .203, with 11 home runs. Plus, the team was scored against a staggering 946 times and traded Mark McGwire in a lost season to the Cardinals. Obviously not happy, the team fired its GM, Sandy Alderson, who was replaced by Billy Beane, who overhauled much of team, which included trading Brosius to the Yankees for disgruntled pitcher “The Gambler” Kenny Rogers. A new beginning was on the horizon for the 31-year-old, still itching for postseason play.
Because Brosius was replacing both Wade Boggs and Charlie Hayes, Brosius was granted full playing time, and he capitalized. Brosius quickly became a fan favorite on a 1998 Yankees team that finished 114-48 during the regular season en route to a career year for our profiled player, amassing 159 hits and 98 RBI, and an All-Star berth too. The Yankees would sweep the San Diego Padres in the World Series, and Brosius, after hitting 4 home runs and 15 RBI while swinging 18-for-47 throughout the playoffs, was named WS MVP.
Brosius would play three more big league seasons in the Bronx, and earned four trips to the Fall Classic, winning three. Among his heroics was a dramatic 2-run home run in Game 5 of the 2001 World Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks to send the game into extra innings. Brosius would retire after that World Series, with 1001 hits, 200 doubles, and 141 homers during his major league tenure. To cap his improbable turnaround, Brosius also won a Gold Glove award for the 1999 campaign, overcoming what used to be his largest liability. It’s really a wonder how valuable Brosius turned out to be for the Yankees, and while always be remembered wistfully and nostalgically by all 1990s Yankees fans.