A breathtaking defensive centerfielder with an anemic bat, Pettis won three Gold Gloves but hit only .208 and .210 in 1987 and 1988. The slender switch-hitter had sprinter’s speed, enabling him to chase fly balls deep into either outfield gap and to steal at least 44 bases in four of his five full ML seasons, but he also struck out often and rarely hit the ball hard.
Pettis won the Angels’ centerfield job in 1984, and by 1986 his average was up to a career-high .258 as the Angels won the AL West. He had nine hits in the Angels’ seven-game loss to the Red Sox in the 1986 LCS, but in 1987 his average dropped to .208, and when Devon White, a comparable defensive player, emerged from the Angels’ farm system, Pettis was traded to Detroit for pitcher Dan Petry.
The Angels’ all-time stolen-base leader with 186, Pettis bounced around after his departure from California, moving from Detroit to Texas to San Diego before concluding his career with the Tigers in 1992.