Is Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India a legitimate MVP candidate in 2022?

Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India (6) turns a double play.
Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India (6) turns a double play. / Meg Vogel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Last season, Jonathan India's meteoric rise to stardom landed him one vote shy of being a unanimous selection for the National League Rookie of the Year. Might the Cincinnati Reds second baseman have his sights set on another trophy this season?

Last season, former Rookie of the Year and current Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper, took home the NL MVP Award for the second time in his career. Harper outmatched India in nearly every offensive category, so it'll be an uphill climb if the Florida native hopes to enter the MVP conversation in 2022.

Could Reds 2B Jonathan India win the NL MVP in 2022?

After making it to the All-Star Game in 2012 and taking home the NL Rookie of the Year Award that same year, Bryce Harper needed three more seasons and clean bill of health in order to secure the Most Valuable Player Award in 2015. Harper played fewer than 120 games in 2013 and 2014, but led the league in home runs, on-base percentage, and slugging in 2015.

Can Jonathan India really be that guy? I for one think he can, but a few things are going to have to break his way. First and foremost will be a bump in the power department. India sent 21 balls out of the yard in 2021, but he's going to have to reach 30-plus in order to be in the MVP conversation.

Like it or not, batting average is no longer king. The home run, slugging percentage, and OPS now rule Major League Baseball. The good news for India is 15 of his 21 round trippers came after the All-Star Break. If India can maintain that same level of power throughout an entire season, chances are good that he'll hit at least 30 homers in 2022.

India has a great eye at the dish, and seems to be magnet for opposing pitchers. The right-handed hitting India was plunked 23 times in 2021, and while Reds Country would prefer that doesn't happen again in 2022, I think more bruises are in store for the University of Florida product. India also had an 11.3% walk-rate.

Jonathan India can also flash the leather. While he made his fair share of mistakes in rookie season, don't forget that India is a third baseman by trade and was getting used to fielding a new position. Another year of dazzling plays on the infield dirt will go a long way toward seeing India be part of the MVP conversation.

Finally, and perhaps the most glaring issue, isn't something that India can directly control; team success. While we all saw Giancarlo Stanton rob Joey Votto of a second MVP Award in 2017, the Miami Marlins were 77-85 while the Cincinnati Reds were 68-94. While some folks would argue against it, a team's win-loss record matters.

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While there are other Reds players who could make some noise in the race for the NL MVP next season (Luis Castillo and Joey Votto), Jonathan India is the clear favorite from Cincinnati's ball club to be part of the conversation.