By COREY NOLES
It's funny the difference a little bit of time can back. In 2012, the St. Louis Cardinals centerfielder Jon Jay was on top of the world.
Riding the wave of the organization's 11th world championship, Jay had a career season. Over the course of the year, he became one of the league's best leadoff men.
Hitting .305 with 19 stolen bases in 2013, Jay was on top of the world. There were even talks of him being in the running for a Gold Glove award.
While his glove was solid, Jay's arm left something to be desired.
How quickly things can change.
In 2013, Jay's defense took a serious hit. Both his arm and range seemed to decrease substantially, with little patience from the Cardinals fan base.
Offensively, he declined somewhat as well, but not as much as the hype would have one to believe.
A career .293 hitter, Jay batted .276 in 2013. Despite the lower average, he had 67 RBI (an increase of 27 over the previous season) and nearly doubled his home run total to seven.
Regardless of his offense, to go from being considered a possible Gold Glove-caliber outfielder to being a fourth outfielder at best is quite the slide.
With the Cardinals trading for Peter Bourjos, Jay was given some legitimate competition for 2014. So far, he's making a case that he should be back in the lineup.
And he started making that case early this year.
Since April 12, Jay is batting .346 with a home run and five RBI. He's not crushing the ball, but he is getting on base consistently.
Defensively, he's still struggling--but that's taking a back seat at the moment because Bourjos' offense has been slow to get going.
Batting only .190 through 42 at bats, Bourjos is still getting acclimated to his new team and home field. The season is still young and the front office still seems committed to giving him time to get warmed up, no position is guaranteed in this organization.
He who earns the job, will hold the position.
For now, Bourjos has the slot, but if he doesn't heat up soon that could change quickly.
At least, it will if Jon Jay has anything to say about it.
Corey Noles is a columnist for The Daily Statesman. His work is also regularly featured on KSDK.com and Bleacher Report. Check him out on Twitter @CoreyNoles.