Pittsburgh Pirates: 30 greatest players in franchise history

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) /
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Andy Van Slyke, Pittsburgh Pirates
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /

4. . CF. 1987-94. Andy Van Slyke. 30. player

One of the few Pirates on this list many of us had an opportunity to see play, Andy Van Slyke was a valuable, sometimes overlooked part of the Pirates from 1987 to 1994. His five Gold Glove Awards, three All-Star selections and a pair of Silver Sluggers help make him a top-30 player in team history.

Van Slyke finished fourth in the MVP vote twice while with the Pirates. In 1992, he did so with a league-leading 199 hits and 45 doubles. It was the last great full season for Van Slyke and an important one to the Pirates franchise. Their trip to the 1992 postseason was the last they would have for two decades.

Van Slyke sits 15th in WAR for position players. His mix of above-average power and his ability to hit for a good average, as well as his OBP are reasons for this.

In his 4,441 trips to the plate in black and yellow, Van Slyke slashed .283/.353/.458. His 1988 season included two notable career-bests when he smashed 25 home runs and drove in 100 runs.

During those productive Pirates seasons of the early 1990s when they won three straight NL East titles, Van Slyke was the center fielder in Pittsburgh. He didn’t do much in the postseason, but without him, they may have never been in that position in the first place.

Free agency after the 1994 season ended prematurely signaled the end of Van Slyke’s time in Pittsburgh. In those eight years, he did plenty to make himself a memorable member of Pirates history.