As a member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA), I had the honor this offseason of casting a ballot for the National League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year. My top vote went to Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India, who was named as the winner earlier this evening.
India’s nearly unanimous win (29 out of 30 first-place votes) makes him the first Reds player to earn Rookie of the Year honors since Scott Williamson in 1999. As our friends at Blog Red Machine pointed out in this article, he’s also the first Cincinnati position player to earn the honor since Chris Sabo in 1988.
Here is why I voted for Jonathan India for the National League Rookie of the Year
In my mind, India was the clear-cut choice for the award. The fact that he has been a force for the Cincinnati Reds all season (leading the team with 150 games played) and greatly improved at the plate as the season went along, slashing .230/.333/.349 with a .683 OPS in the first two months of the season but finishing the campaign with .269/.376/.459 with an OPS of .835, was a big factor in my mind. That showed me that not only did India make an impact all season, but also got better as the season went along. The power certainly did as 15 of his 21 homers came after the All-Star break.
Just how strong was India among his rookie counterparts this season? He led them all in games played (150), on-base percentage (.376), doubles (34), walks (71), and runs scored (98). He set the table for the Reds from the leadoff position while playing a solid second base for a team that was in the postseason chase until the last week of the season.
There were plenty of reasons to have India at the top of my ballot, and there are plenty of reasons to be excited about the future of India being even brighter. He will likely face more pressure to perform in 2022 as he becomes one of the true faces of the franchise (along with Joey Votto) after the expected departure of Nick Castellanos in free agency and the trade of Tucker Barnhart. However, there’s no indication that that pressure will have any effect on the soon-to-be 25-year-old India. After all, he navigated his rookie season with flying colors, so there’s no reason to expect clubhouse or lineup changes will impact his individual play in 2022.
As a note, I gave a second-place vote to Miami pitcher Trevor Rogers and St. Louis outfielder Dylan Carlson earned a third-place vote from me. You can see my ballot and the votes of other members of the BBWAA who took part in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting here.