The son of Andy, Scott, after finally being recalled from Triple-A on May 10, has paid dividends thus far.
While Van Slyke's .261 batting average and .346 on-base percentage are decent-but-not-great, his .739 slugging percentage -- while unsustainable -- shows the value he has to the Dodgers.
Van Slyke only has 26 plate appearances this season, but he's already bested his home run and walk totals from last season (57 plate appearances) and is two-thirds of the way to matching his hit total.
Of his six hits, five have gone for extra bases this season (two doubles, three home runs). With Jerry Hairston to be activated on May 26, a corresponding roster move has to be made. Van Slyke has options, but there's no way he should be the one to go.
Van Slyke, 26, provides the Dodgers what they need off the bench: right-handed power. He's able to spell Adrian Gonzalez at first base and both Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier in the corners. Truthfully, he or Alex Castellanos should have made the team out of spring training.
The numbers Van Slyke has posted in Triple-A the last two seasons have been impressive (.327/.404/.578 in 2012, .397/.503/.733 in 2013), but his issues go beyond the stat line.
Van Slyke's biggest issue heading into the season was his bat speed. It appears he may have solved said issue by losing weight.
He checked in at 250 pounds last season. He clearly isn't 250 pounds these days. While he isn't a burner, the reduced weight has a direct correlation to his increased bat speed.
Van Slyke homered against the Atlanta Braves twice in a game -- one on an 84 MPH changeup and one on a 91 MPH fastball, which he pulled to left-center field. In Milwaukee on May 22, Van Slyke hit two doubles on fastballs.
His first double was on a 96 MPH fastball on the inner-half of the plate, a pitch he wouldn't have been able to turn around last season. His second double was on a 93 MPH fastball that caught a good portion of the plate.
This prompted a tweet from me during the game.
"Van Slyke actually pulled a 96 MPH fastball? Maybe he has more than just slider bat speed. #Dodgers"
Former manager Kevin Kennedy tweeted something similar shortly after.
"Somebody told me SVS had no bat speed..really? He just turned 96 around w a rocket double to left! He has made Adjustments good for him!"
It's clear this is more than just a string of luck. Van Slyke has made adjustments and now has a viable Major League career.
He'll likely not be as good as his father was, but Van Slyke could carve out a nice niche as a right-handed masher -- especially against lefties -- while playing in a corner. That's at least a 10-year career right there.
Again, this comes from a small sample size, but it's encouraging nonetheless. The Dodgers have a valuable piece in Van Slyke. Here's hoping they don't jettison him back to Triple-A. While the Albuquerque Isotopes could use some offensive help, the Dodgers need Van Slyke's potential off the bench.
Dustin Nosler has followed the Dodgers from Northern California all his life. He's the founder of Feelin' Kinda Blue, a Dodger blog. He also co-hosts "Dugout Blues," a weekly Dodger podcast. Find him on Twitter @FeelinKindaBlue.
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