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.

24 Responses

  1. Alan Horn

    I would say so. Votto had a good year also along with a few others like Castellanos. Votto and Winker were plagued with injuries at some point.

  2. CFD3000

    It’s debatable – Castellanos was also terrific, and Miley and Mahle were really good. But I’d say he’s the Reds MVP both because of what he added when in the lineup (every day) and how hard he’d have been to replace. The Reds managed okay without Nick, Jesse and Joey for a month or more each. There was no one who could have stepped in to replace Jonathan India.

  3. LDS

    I’d like to see him meet or exceed his projection. But I’d really like to see that projection only 2nd or 3rd on the Reds this year. I know I’m hoping for a big surprise deal or a minor league breakout player. A fan can dream.

  4. SOQ

    I have to say Nick C. His “Swagger” motivated the others on the team. With Nick C in the lineup, the team performed with confidence and others fed off of that. Swagger goes a long way (Bob C–see Joe Burrow)

  5. Doc

    Miley’s release was not “inexplicable”. Whether it were a business, or something they saw in him that gave them concern, it is explicable.

    The fact that you don’t know the explanation does not make it inexplicable. In fact, haven’t you been decrying the move as a cost cutting measure? If so, then you have certainly put out an explanation. Are you saying that your explanation is inexplicable?

    • ScreaminRat

      It’s inexplicable because even if the only reason was to cut costs, they could have traded him sometime during the offseason and still reduced salary. League average starting pitchers have been signing contracts valued at more than $9 million, meaning it’s likely they could have waited and received something of value in return instead of just giving a valuable pitcher away to a division rival. Pretty much no other team operates this way.

      • Scott C

        You are absolutely right, SceaminRat, there was no reason to put him on waivers.

      • Doc

        Inexplicable means incapable of being explained.

        The fact that you don’t know the explanation, and that is fact, does not make it inexplicable. You may never know the reason, but someone on the Reds can explain it, therefore, it is not inexplicable.

  6. Jon

    I still believe the Reds should find a way to re-sign Castellanos. Having his bat in RF vs Naquin’s bat would be a massive improvement to a team that struggled offensively at times in 2021. The last thing the Reds need is a weak hitting RF to go with the question marks in CF.

    • Alan Horn

      I agree. It has to be reasonable money wise. You just don’t let key players to your team walk so easy. He will be very hard to replace.

  7. Mark Moore

    I see RoY India as something special. I’m among those who hope he can carry the lightening he caught in a bottle last year forward and be a solid producer. He’s fun to watch, plays with a focus and passion that seems beyond his years, and combine him with TySteve and that’s a great foundation. I’d like to believe if they play well, Joey plays well and helps lead them along.

    Now if we only were certain when/if they would play ball.

    • Old-school

      A new CBA isnt close

      We are a week away from postponing spring training.

      We are a month away from
      Postponing opening day.

      Players have 1 person that destroys their credibility-Scott Boras…. The guy who just said a rookie salary of $715000 barely keeps up with inflation

      Smh. Thats not good optics

      • LDS

        The current minimum salary would more than keep up with my inflation concerns.

      • Doug Gray

        Who cares if it’s good optics if it’s true. But of course, that’s not exactly what Boras said. He said the proposed raise to what MLB offered barely keeps up with inflation (which was $615,000). If the company is bringing in more money and becoming far more valuable why should the players not benefit from that?

        The problem with “the optics” is that it’s public knowledge what the players make and the owners will do every single last thing possible to hide what they make from you.

      • MBS

        I don’t favor one side vs the other, they just need to decide what the fair distribution of profits are, so we can watch some spring training. I’m not expecting a great team, but I am excited to see some pieces fall into place, and others develop.

        It feels like the new era of Reds began last year!

      • old-school

        If a AAAA player/role player/long reliever or situational bullpenner hangs around for a roster spot for a year- the owners are offering 615K per year. That’s 10 years of good pay for 6 months worth of work. IF they stretch that out a few years, they are set for life.

        Weaving into the discourse economics that every day folks are getting hammered with in 2022 – like inflation- and saying that 60+ % of MLB players are suffering because they deserve 715k instead of 615K- wont sit well with everyday baseball fans.

      • JayTheRed

        @Doug – Tell people who have been living under the inflation levels for around 30 years now who are on Social Security either by age or by disability. Anyone making over 500,000 a year should not be whining about not making enough money. I make 10x less than that a year. I have a nice place and car and nice things. No, I don’t have everything I want but whaa… I work my tail off every year and players work hard too but they don’t deserve the money they are getting overall. I know you won’t agree with me, but I had to say my piece.

      • Doug Gray

        On what planet do the employees (in this case the players) not deserve what they are earning in a very small company that produces $11 BILLION dollars in revenue a year?

      • Tom Reeves

        One thing the MLB can’t do in the negotiation is claim they can’t afford a proposal from the players union. The NLRA requires that if a company states it can’t afford a proposal, then the company must open its books for review. The only time, as a company, you state you can’t afford something is when you really can’t afford it and opening the books will prove it.

        Frankly, I think one of the things that cities that build stadiums for teams should require is that teams open their financials to the public.

        The other thing I’d propose is all performance based salaries starting at rookie season. I’d base the bonus structure off of three things

        Base salary based on position with three bands.


        Band 1) League Min for new, unestablished players

        Band 2) League average players

        Band 3) Superstars

        3 Levels of Bonus:

        A) Individual Performance ranked against the rest of the league based on position.

        B) Team performance. Offensive production, pitching, defense, and W/L’s.

        C) Attendance and team revenue generation.

        A solid bonus structure would align the interests of the players with the interests of the owners and the fans.

        If a rookie plays like India, they will be amazingly well compensated. If a veteran begins to decline, the team isn’t trapped with millions in sunk costs.

        The goal would be that if you’re able to make the majors, you’ll do well. But if you stay and produce, you’re going to do very well.

        The upside to this structure is that it’s based on metrics so there’s no “insult” because a team won’t pay someone what then think they’re worth. It’s all designed into the comp structure and it applies to every player.

        This would also require owners create a revenue sharing process that’s far more even.

  8. TR

    Jonathan India and Joe Burrow have lot in common in terms of attitude and intensity to win.

  9. old-school

    If April isn’t played, the Reds potentially benefit greatly in a shortened season.

    Brutal road trips in April with 4 @ Atlanta, 7 @ Dodgers and Padres and 3@ Rockies.

    A shortened season also helps the likes of Greene and Lodolo who would be on innings limits.

  10. Hotto4Votto

    In terms of total impact, India was probably our most valuable player. Castellanos, Votto, and Winker put up better offensive stats, but all take a hit on their value with their defense to some degree (while also not playing key up the middle positions). India brings some defense, better speed, and the ability to hit lead-off and set the table for the big bats in the offense.