Pittsburgh Pirates Top Five Center Fielders
3. Andy Van Slyke (1987-1994)
Originally, Andy Van Slyke was a third baseman. By his own admission, he played the position like Brooks, only in this case, he was referring to Mel Brooks. Fortunately for his sake, he was moved to center field, where his career truly took off.
Van Slyke had always been able to hit, making three All-Star teams, winning two Sliver Slugger awards and earning two fourth place finishes in the MVP ballot for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Overall, during his eight years in Pittsburgh, Van Slyke posted a solid .283/.353/.458 batting line, hitting 117 home runs and stealing 134 bases. He was a key component of the Pirates batting order, teaming with Barry Bonds and Bobby Bonilla to give Pittsburgh a truly solid middle of the lineup.
Defensively, Van Slyke went from being a butcher at third to a Gold Glove center fielder. In fact, Van Slyke won the Gold Glove award in center from 1988 trough 1992, as he became a premier defensive player. His strong arm helped him lead the National League in double plays three times, as he made the transition from third look easy.
Andy Van Slyke may have been overshadowed by Bonds and Bonilla, but he gave the Pittsburgh Pirates quite the outfield during that run in the late 1980’s through the early part of the 1990’s.
Next: One of the top players in the game today