The Cardinals first round draft pick in 1979, Van Slyke played some corner infield in the bushes, and even saw some action at first and third in the Majors, before he settled in at center field and won all those Gold Gloves. After posting modest numbers with above average on-base percentages in his first two Major League seasons, Andy broke out in 1985 when the Cardinals romped to the World Series. That year, Andy led Major League right fielders with 34 steals and he had his first double-digit homerun output.
With Willie McGee and Vince Coleman, Van Slyke gave the Redbirds one of the swiftest outfields of all-time. The Cardinals, limited in the power department in ’86, got a team best 13 long balls out of Andy that year. But the Cardinals needed a catcher so they made a trade with the Pirates to bring in Tony Pena. In Pittsburgh, Andy was able to shift to center field and showed the Cardinals that he was a better flychaser than their center fielder, McGee, by netting five straight Gold Gloves.
In Pittsburgh Andy’s power numbers rose as his swatted 21 homeruns in 1987 and reached the .500 slugging percentage mark for the first time. He was one of just two National League outfielders to post double-digit totals in all the extra base hit departments. Named to his first All-Star team in 1988, Andy led the senior circuit in triples with fifteen. He was the only NL center fielder with 100 RBI.
The Pirates were building a solid team in the late 1980s and by 1990, they were able to make their way back to the postseason. In the 1990 NLCS, Andy plated three runs in a losing cause. He would carry the Pirates to the NLCS the next two years but in each season his Bucs lost the series and failed to make the Fall Classic.
Andy enjoyed his finest season in 1992 when he paced the National League in base hits and doubles. Head and shoulders above his peers, Van Slyke led NL center fielders in runs, hits, RBI, batting average and slugging average. On fire again in 1993, Andy was hitting .310 when he was shelved courtesy an injury. When he returned to the field, he never again was an elite star. His batting average fell to .246 in 1994 and he was granted free agency after the season. He split his final season with the Orioles and Phillies.
G 1,658/R 835/H 1,562/2B 293/3B 91/HR 164/RBI 792/BB 667/SO 1,063/SB 245/BA .274/SA .443/OBP .349