Jonathan India had a strong rookie season in 2021 with the Cincinnati Reds. The second baseman hit .269/.376/.459 with 21 home runs, 12 steals, and he took home the National League Rookie of the Year in a landslide. It was a very good season that resulted in 3.9 WAR (both Fangraphs and Baseball Reference were in agreement here). That was second best on the Reds according to Fangraphs (trailing just Nick Castellanos) and it was 4th best according to Baseball Reference (trailing Wade Miley, Tyler Mahle, and Luis Castillo).
Of the four players that were potentially more valuable than Jonathan India for Cincinnati in 2021, only two of them remain Reds for 2022 as Wade Miley was inexplicably placed on waivers and then claimed by the Chicago Cubs and Nick Castellanos opted to become a free agent after his big season.
Over the weekend Fangraphs updated their projections pages to include the 2022 ZiPS for all players. While browsing things I noticed that Jonathan India was projected by ZiPS to be the 16th most valuable position player in all of baseball in 2022. His 4.8 WAR projection puts him ahead of teammate Luis Castillo and his 4.4 WAR projection that leads the pitching staff.
Perhaps what’s most interesting with the profile for Jonathan India is that while he may not be elite at any one thing, he’s good at everything. He has pop, but he’s not known as a true power threat. India probably isn’t going to threaten for a batting title, but in today’s game he can hit for a good average. On the bases he’s not a burner, but he’ll steal some bases and provide value there. Defensively he’s not elite, but he’s a good defender. He’s the proverbial 5-tool player, but he just doesn’t have that one elite tool that jumps off of the page.
Cincinnati’s second baseman may be a star in the making but in a different way than many others wind up there. Not only could he wind up being the Reds best player in the upcoming season, but ZiPS projections seem to think he could wind up being one of the best players in the league.