Who is the most important position player for the Reds in 2023?
He’s a gamer…athletic…...good eye at the plate….can hit, run, provide some pop……and is a willing leader. He flashed all of that his rookie season.
But then he lost track of who and what he was last season….and really struggled. He struggled to stay healthy…..struggled at the plate….struggled in the field.
Answer: Jonathan India
One of the biggest questions for this season is which is the truest version of India: The 2021 Rookie of the Year version or the 2022 much lesser version?
2021: He surprised all and won the 2B job in spring training. He dazzled, proceeding to lead the Reds in games, runs, stolen bases and on-base percentage. He was an instant fan favorite, playing the game in an all-out, no holds barred fashion that this fan base eats up. He became the only rookie in Major League history to record in a season at least 20 HR, 20 HBP and 10 stolen bases. He was 1 of only 2 players in MLB, along with Bryce Harper, to produce at least 98 runs, 34 doubles, 21 HR, 12 SB and 71 walks. He looked like the franchise's 2B for the next decade. We kicked around the idea of an extension.
2022: He changed who he wanted to be. He wanted to hit for power. He bulked up. Added weight. Lost his athleticism. Got slow. Got hurt and became a shell of himself.
He missed 48 games with a right hamstring strain injury. His batting average dropped 20 points, his on-base 50 points and his OPS plunged 130 points. He was a disaster in the field, by the metrics, one of the worst defensive 2B in MLB.
He’s called it a lesson learned. A rookie mistake. But he’s back. Sleek. Streamlined. Looking to be healthy and athletic, while stealing bases and turning singles into doubles.
Will he be able to deliver that? He has to if this team is going to take a step forward.
He gets on base 36-percent of the time from the leadoff spot in his career. Will he be in that spot, or bumped down in the order? Wherever he lands in the order, he has to have an impact. He’s hit .319 with a .952 OPS in wins and just .208 with a .628 OPS in losses.
It’s not a stretch to say as India goes in 2023, so go the Reds.
Go where? We are about to find out.