Toronto methodically won 99 games last year to take the so-called toughest division in baseball, but something was missing. Perhaps it was something as small as the consonant omitted from new manager Jimy Williams's forename. Williams, who had been former Blue Jay manager Bobby Cox's third base coach and confidant, probably doesn't need any help, but just in case, here is what the missing m might stand for.
•Main man: The best the Blue Jays could do in the Most Valuable Player voting was seventh—Jesse Barfield. In the playoffs, the Jays seemed to be waiting for someone to step forward and carry them. A strong leader will have to emerge this year.
The candidates are many. George Bell and Barfield should both surpass their age (26) in steals and homers. Dave Stieb is the best pitcher on an excellent staff, but the Blue Jays don't seem to want to win for him: They went 17-19 in games started by the ace. Perhaps the best bet for an MVP is shortstop Tony Fernandez, 23, who batted .341 with runners in scoring position in '85. He also led the Dominican winter league in hitting at .364.
•Mo' Mo: Lloyd Moseby will get a chance to ignite the attack now that Williams has moved him from third to leadoff and Damaso Garcia, the club's No. 1 hitter for four years, to the eighth spot. Statistically, the move makes sense: Garcia was 11th on the team in on-base percentage (.302), while Moseby led in walks (76) and steals (37). As much as it dampened Damo's spirits, it somehow—is it possible?—lifted Lloyd's, especially since Moseby has a rivalry with the Yanks' Rickey Henderson, a boyhood chum.
•Middleman: The knock on Cox was that he tightened up after losses and was hard to talk to. Williams, 42, an organization man for six years, should be able to find the middle of the road. "Jimy's tough and he plays aggressively, but he's not the type to scream and holler," says third baseman Rance Mulliniks, who played for Williams in Salt Lake City. "The thing to do with this club is prepare it and get it ready to go." Williams, by the way, says he dropped the m for an eighth-grade essay some 30 years ago, though he doesn't say which m it was, the first or the second. Probably the first; first is also where the Jays will finish in the AL East.
THE ELIAS ANALYST:
Has a career BA of .300 (24 for 80) in LIP situations with runners in scoring position.
Jays had a 13-1 record in games in which he homered.
Career rate of 2.9 walks per 100 plate appearances is 3rd lowest among active players.
Led AL shortstops in both assists (478) and chances accepted (761).
May be the toughest hitter when opportunity knocks; drove in 69.7% of runners from third.
The active major leaguer with the most career at bats (1,488) and no sacrifice bunts.
HR totals in his six-year career: 9, 9, 9, 18, 18, 18. Pencil him in for 27 this year.
Led major league outfielders in assists (22) and double plays (8).
Drove in 36.6% of runners from second, best in majors since 1981.
Started 15 one-run games; his record in them was 1-6 with a 2.42 BRA.
Over last five years, opponents are 3 for 28 with no walks when the bases are loaded.
Per nine innings, he allowed 7.96 hits and 2.12 walks, 6th and 5th in the AL.
Won-lost breakdown: 8-1 against teams below .500, 1-5 against teams at or above .500.
Has faced 215 righthanded batters without allowing a home run.