2. Jonathan India, Reds second baseman
I don’t know if anyone in a Cincinnati Reds uniform had a more surprising season than Jonathan India. The likely NL Rookie of the Year put on a clinic in 2021 and looks to be, along with Tyler Stephenson, a key piece of the franchise moving forward.
India, in 2021, was everything Reds Country had hoped Nick Senzel would be when the former first-round pick debuted in 2019. However, while Senzel seemed to find time in the training room than the field, India played through multiple bumps and bruises on the season. His toughness may actually be one of his best qualities.
Of course, the rookie was sensational at the dish as well. The 24-year-old slashed .269/.376/.459 on the season with 21 home runs and 69 RBIs. More importantly, India added an element of speed to the lineup, swiping 12 bags on the season and was only thrown out three times.
There were several intangibles that Jonathan India brought to the Cincinnati Reds in 2021, but nothing was more important than his ability to set the table for the big hitters behind him in the lineup. India’s 98 runs scored led the team, was the most among all NL rookies, and ranked eighth in the league.
David Bell’s decision to insert India atop the lineup was a season-changing moment. India took over leadoff duties on June 5th in St. Louis and hit .274/.382/.480 while hitting No. 1 in the lineup. Juan Soto ran away with highest on-base percentage (.465) in the NL this season, putting up numbers that looked a lot like Joey Votto. But India’s .376 OBP was fifth best in the league this season.