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Jonathan India’s Breakout Rookie Season

Jonathan India's Breakout Rookie Season

For the entirety of the 2020 offseason, the Cincinnati Reds had an idea about what their infield would look like for the 2021 season. Joey Votto would play first base, like he has for the past 15 years. Anticipated slugger, Eugenio Suarez would hold down the hot corner over at third base. Shortstop belonged to the defensive wizard, Kyle Farmer. And Mike Moustakas would play second base.

That was until Jonathan India went on a tear through the last few months of the offseason. India was already a highly anticipated prospect for the Reds, being their first round selection in the 2018 MLB Draft. He wasn’t expected to be ready for the MLB this soon though.

But, his performance has forced the Reds hand. They couldn’t keep him down any longer. Second Base belonged to India and it was his job to lose.

An On Base Machine

India currently ranks fourth in the MLB in on base percentage, holding a .404 OBP so far. Fourth in the entire MLB. And he is a rookie. There are just four players in the entire league with a .400 OBP this season. If India can finish the season above a .400, he would be the first qualified rookie to do so since Albert Pujols in 2001. That is some elite company.

Just last week he joined another group of elite company when he reached base six times in a single game against the Mets on July 19. He was the first rookie Red to reach such a feat since Barry Larkin did so in 1986. India has been a terror to opposing pitchers as well as being the spark for the Reds offense.

Partway through the season, he was moved up in the order to the leadoff spot. Since then, he has hit lead off in every game that he was healthy for. What is his on base percentage in that stretch of games? .435.

Disrespected Rookie

The media has been nothing short of disrespectful to India in terms of media attention. He has been left out of many discussions for NL rookie of the year. His name is rarely ever mentioned with the other top rookies. Not many know how special of a season he truly is having, outside of the Cincinnati fans.

According to betonline.ag, India is a 15/2 underdog to take home the NL Rookie of the Year trophy. There are four players with higher odds than him. Of the four rookies ranked above him, two of them are position players. Here is how those two stack up with India this year.

Of the three, India ranks first or is tied for first in batting average(.273), on base percentage(.404), OPS(.825), RBI(38), stolen bases(7), walks(47), and hit by pitch(16). The stats aren’t close. But India continues to experience the same disrespect that he has experienced all season.

As the season begins to drag on through the dog days of summer, it will be interesting to see if India hits a rookie wall. If he can finish the season as productive as he started it, there is a good chance the Reds will find themselves in the midst of a playoff push. India is their spark. He will be their spark for many years to come.

 

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