Two years ago, the Blue Jays finished with 85 wins, 19 more than the hapless Baltimore Orioles.
Last year, the Jays registered 81 victories, 12 more than Peter Angelos' terrible O's.
This season, the Jays have 55 wins and Baltimore has 64. The Orioles have shot past Toronto and could suddenly have, depending on how you look at it, a brighter future.
Look at what Washington is doing over in the National League - PIttsburgh too - and the teams that were struggling along with the Jays to build winning ballclubs from youth have now leapfrogged ahead of Toronto.
I'm willing to accept injuries as the biggest part of the Jays slide from a competitive team in June to one now on a 3-7 slide that suddenly looks hapless. The pitching staff has been devastated, and losing Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie, J.P. Arencibia and others for extended periods just kills a young team that is still trying to find itself.
But as Ricky Romero's latest performance indicates, there are other reasons for the way in which this season has deteriorated.
Sub-par production from players that were counted upon to produce has played a big role, as well. Romero has gone weirdly sideways, and he wasn't just supposed to be the team's best pitcher. He was supposed to be the ace and a clubhouse leader. Taking him out of a tie ballgame last night with a big lefthanded hitter coming up was about as strong a non-confidence vote in Romero by manager John Farrell as could be imagined short of sending him to the bullpen.
Adam Lind had to go to the minors. Both Eric Thames and Travis Snider were found wanting, then traded. Yunel Escobar couldn't keep his role as a leadoff man. Brett Cecil floundered. Francisco Codero bombed. Henderson Alvarez is still very much a youngster learning to become a pro.
The list of Jays underachievers is nearly as long as the list of injured players. That shouldn't be lost in the story here. That Alex Anthopoulos had to deviate from the plan and start trading prospects for veteran bullpen help, and not in a bid to make the post-season, isn't the way this was supposed to go. (Snider has an OPS of .866 in his first 15 games as a Pirate, by the way. We won't discuss Brad Lincoln's night.)
Finally, there's the payroll. The decision was made in the off-season to wait, and that has meant when the injuries came the team had to turn to kids like Drew Hutchinson and Adeiny Hecchavaria instead of letting them mature in the minors, which was supposed to be the whole plan.
It's a weird universe we're now it that the Jays, at around the $75 million payroll mark, now spend $20 million or more less than Milwaukee and Minnesota. New ballparks in those cities have changed the economics, yes. But by that much? In a city of this size, how does the 23rd highest payroll in a non-cap sport make sense to a fan desperate to see this team find some success?
So yeah, injuries effectively derailed the Jays season. But there are other reasons that shouldn't be ignored.