Cincinnati Reds: 3 biggest X-factors for the 2021 season

Mar 9, 2021; Goodyear, Arizona, USA; Cincinnati Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez (7) looks on against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the third inning of a spring training game. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 9, 2021; Goodyear, Arizona, USA; Cincinnati Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez (7) looks on against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the third inning of a spring training game. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India (71) rounds the bases on a solo home run.
Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India (71) rounds the bases on a solo home run. /

The Cincinnati Reds enter the 2021 season with a lot of uncertainty. After trade rumors swirled around key players all season, with Opening Day upon us, it’s time to see if this year’s squad has what it takes to return to the postseason. What are the three biggest X-factors for the Reds heading into 2021?

The Reds have had a rash of injuries to some of their key contributors, a massive shakeup in the lineup, questions regarding the team’s the starting rotation, and a plethora of unexpected standouts during Cactus League play.

When we speak of X-factors, we’re looking at something or someone who could change the fortunes of the ball club by performing above or below the expectation. After an odd winter, this year’s Reds team has plenty of X-factors, but we’ll narrow it down to three.

1. Will shuffling the Reds infield really work?

It looks like Jonathan India is going to get his chance. In a massive shakeup, David Bell decided to move All-Star third baseman Eugenio Suarez to shortstop, shift Mike Moustakas to the hot corner, and insert India at the keystone. Will this shuffling of the infield pay off? If India meets expectations, it most certainly will.

The Cincinnati Reds did little to nothing to improve a league-worst .212 batting average from a season ago. Minor additions like Dee Strange-Gordon, Tyler Naquin, and Max Schrock are not going to move the needle. But, India sure can.

Moving Geno to short allows India to join the starting infield and moves Kyle Farmer to the bench; a role he’s quite familiar with, and actually excels at. Having Suarez taking reps at shortstop gives Cincinnati the most powerful bat they’ve ever seen at the position. If Geno’s defense is at least average, his offense will more than makeup for the shoddy glove work.

I have no concerns about Moose at third base, a position he’s played throughout his entire career. Defensively, I have no concerns about India playing second base either. The biggest question is, will the former first-round pick play up to his abilities. India was impressive at the alternate site last summer; will that transition to the 2021 regular season?