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Top 60 All-Time Jays: #9 Lloyd Moseby

Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Photo by Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images

Lloyd Anthony Moseby | CF | 1980-1989

Lloyd Moseby was born November 5, 1959, in Portland, Arkansas. The Blue Jays picked Lloyd in the first round, second overall, of the 1978 amateur draft out of Oakland high school. The number one choice that year was Bob Horner, and number three was Hubie Brooks. Also chosen in the first round that year was Kirk Gibson.

We were a pretty lousy team back then, and Moseby was rushed through the minors in two years though he hit .300 and slugged .500 in his couple of seasons in the minors. We called him up in late May of 1980. He was just 20 and over-matched in the majors. But like I said, we weren’t a very good team back then, and we kept him in center field. For his first 3 seasons, he didn’t hit better than .236.

Lloyd’s 4th season with the Jays, he finally learned to hit, with a terrific .315/.376/.499 line. He scored 104 runs (becoming the first jay to score 100 in a season), hit 18 homers, and stole 27 bases. He won the Silver Slugger award, and he received some MVP votes. He was 5th in runs scored and 6th in batting average and had a, then, team record 21 games hitting streak.

He had another good season in 1984, hitting .280/.368/.470, getting a career-high 7.3 bWAR. He led the league in triples with 15 and stole 39 bases. Scored 97 runs and drove in 92. He got some MVP votes again. As Bill James said at the time, his strengths were “hitting for power, hitting for average, range, throwing, base running, patience as a hitter. Weaknesses none.” Course, he also thought that Lloyd would win an MVP award, and that part didn’t happen.

In 1985 his batting average dropped to .259, but he still walked 76 times, had 18 homers, scored 92 runs, and stole 37 bases. 1985 was our first playoff year. We lost out to the Royals. Lloyd didn’t have a good series, hitting just .226 in the seven games. He scored 5 runs and drove in 4. 1986 wasn’t his best year either, hitting .253/.329/.418, but still scored 89 runs and drove in 86, with 21 homers and 32 steals. With excellent range even in a down year, he was a valuable player. He made the All-Star team.

1987 was a bounce-back year; he set career highs in runs 106, homers 26, RBI 96, and tied for his best season in steals with 39. He hit .282/.358/.473. Lloyd had a small part in baseball history on September 14 when he had a homer in a game where the Jays set a major league record hitting 10 in the game.

His last couple of seasons with the Jays were slowed by injuries to back and legs (the hard playing surface in Toronto didn’t do him any favors, he likely would have had a longer career if he played on grass). He was being pushed out of center field by prospect Junior Felix. His last season with the Jays was 1989, and we made the playoffs again that year. Lloyd did well in our five-game loss to the A’s, hitting .313/.476/.500 with a homer.

After the season, he signed with the Detroit Tigers as a free agent. He had two not very good seasons with the Tigers and then went to Japan to play for the Yomiuri Giants for two years to finish off his career. He coached first base for the Jays in 1998 and 1999.

Moseby was part of the Jays outfield thought of as the best outfield of the ’80s with George Bell and Jesse Barfield. He had excellent range. He had to with George Bell playing beside him and had a decent arm. He never won a Gold Glove but likely should have had at least a couple of them. He had the longest career, with the Jays, of any of the three of them. I’d love to be able to go back and watch them play for a season or two.

I always thought that Moseby was one of those guys you had to watch to get how good he was. At his peak, he was as good a player as we’ve ever had. But he didn’t have a long career. He was finished in the MLB at 31. Likely playing on the thinly carpeted concrete at SkyDome Exhibition Stadium cost him.

He was one of those players who did everything well but nothing so great that he got the attention his outfield teammates got. Unfortunately for him, most fans at the time only focused on batting average. He had good power, hit for a decent average, took many walks, had good speed, and was your basic five-tool player. When he left the Jays, he was the team career leader in games played, runs, hits, doubles, total bases, stolen bases, and sac flies. On a team that platooned a lot, he played against both lefties and righties and didn’t have huge splits.

Rob Neyer in the ‘Big Book of Baseball Lineups’ had Lloyd as our best CFer in team history and Bill James had him as the 71st best center fielder in baseball history in his ‘New Historical Abstract.’ Moseby got the nickname Shaker for his ability on the basketball court. At 6’3” and 200 pounds, he was a terrific athlete. And he was also the subject of a rap song, Shaker’s Rap, which you can find on the internet if you want.

Once, in a game against the White Sox, he successfully stole second base, and the throw from the catcher went into centerfield. However, shortstop Ozzie Guillen faked him out by acting as if it was a popup. Thinking that he was about to be doubled off first, he ran back there instead of taking the extra base. The centerfielder threw in to first - and the ball went into the dugout. Moseby made it back safely to second, having run 270 feet to go 90 feet.

He was a fun player to watch, a happy guy.

He became my youngest son’s favorite. Lloyd was one of the Jays who came to Calgary with the Jays baseball camps. He was so good with the kids. My son talked about him for a long time after (well, he and Sandy Alomar Sr. Alomar told my son he had a good swing, which made him very happy, figuring if Roberto’s dad thought he was good, he must be). I’ve always thought that if you are good to my kid, I will like you.

Moseby was the Jays first base coach in 1998 and 1999. He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018. He had a home in the Toronto area, but I think he is living in California now.

Lloyd Moseby’s place among Blue Jay batting Leaders:

bWAR: 6th, 26.0.

Game played: 4th, 1392.

At bats: 4th, 5799.

Runs Scored: 4th, 768.

Hits: 4th, 1319.

Doubles: 4th, 292.

Triples: 2nd, 60.

Home Runs: 8th, 149.

RBI: 7th, 651.

Walks: 3rd, 547.

Stolen Bases: 1st, 255.