This battle in the Tacoma Rainiers Team of the Decade voting is going to be interesting. The Rainiers have been fortunate to have excellent center fielders over the last ten years.
Center field at Cheney Stadium is a very difficult position to play. There is the deep center field fence – 425 feet from home plate, and 32 feet tall. Then there are the 20-foot-tall left and right field fences angling in to meet the wall in center – causing some crazy bounces on deep drives.
With all of the added outfield territory caused by the deep wall, speed is needed at Cheney. A great arm helps, too.
All four of our candidates for Center Fielder of the Decade were outstanding defensive players.
- Scott Podsednik – patrolled center in 2001 and 2002 before finishing second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2003. Podsednik’s best Tacoma season was 2002, when he batted .279 with 9 home runs and 35 stolen bases. Podsednik led the majors with 70 stolen bases in 2004, and he ripped a walk-off home run for the Chicago White Sox in game two of the 2005 World Series. No list of Podsednik’s accomplishments would be complete without mentioning that he is married to former Playboy Playmate Lisa Dergan.
- Jamal Strong – Was the Rainiers leadoff man and CF in 2003, 2004, and 2005. Strong ranks fifth on the Tacoma all-time career stolen bases list with 70 (Del Alston is #1 with 92 from 1978-80). Strong batted .324 in 2004 and .293 in 2005. His on-base percentages in his three seasons with Tacoma were .390, .421, and .371 yet he only had a couple of brief call-ups to Seattle.
- TJ Bohn – a truly talented defensive outfielder, Bohn got great jumps on fly balls and had a strong and accurate arm. Bohn joined the Rainiers late in 2005 and was with the club during the playoffs, and he returned as the starting center fielder in 2006. Bohn hit .283 with 9 home runs and 15 stolen bases in 2006 that year, and he received a September call-up to Seattle.
- Adam Jones – the only true power hitting center fielder the Rainiers have had in the last ten years, Jones played for Tacoma in 2006 and 2007. He launched 41 homers over those two seasons, increasing his single-season total from 16 to 25. He also increased his batting average from .287 to .314 before he left town in a trade that – because we do not want to upset you, the loyal reader – we will not be recounting in this space.
These are your center field candidates – head to the Rainiers home page and vote!