While the AL Rookie of the Year Award is more cluttered than a hoarder’s basement, the NL Rookie of the Year Award had been a two-horse race for most of the season. Miami’s Trevor Rogers and Cincinnati’s Jonathan India have been the frontrunners for months now. However, Trevor Rogers hasn’t pitched since July 31 due to a family medical emergency, and even with Rogers set to return in just two days on August 20. The award is now India’s to lose.
India leads all rookies in WAR (3.3). He’s first in weighted Runs Created-plus. The second baseman is first among NL rookies in RBI. However, his most impressive feat has been his ability to get on base. India currently holds a .396 OBP — only nine points higher than second-place Jake Fraley from Seattle — but Fraley has played in 56 fewer games.
The Cincinnati Reds were supposed to rely on Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez for most of their run production in 2021. However, while Suarez has struggled through most of the 2021 season to the tune of a .172 BA and .632 OPS, India (along with Jesse Winker) have taken on the brunt of the offensive workload. India has become one of the league’s premier table-setters. At the top of the Reds’ lineup, India is slashing .300/.418/.523.
Is it possible that Rogers could still catch up to India in the NL Rookie of the Year race? Absolutely, but MLB Awards voters tend to lean towards players on teams that have experienced success. Take the 2012 NL MVP race, while Buster Posey had a greater batting average than Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, Braun had a higher slugging percentage, OPS, more home runs, more RBIs, more stolen bases, and more runs scored. Statistically, Ryan Braun was miles and miles better than Buster Posey. What put Posey over the edge in the minds of the voters, was the fact that Posey’s Giants were one of the best teams in the National League and were World Series contenders. Braun’s Brewers were barely a .500 team. Some people still view the MVP award as “the best player on the best team”, and since Braun was not on the best team, he could not be the MVP. Back to 2021, as great as Rogers has been, his Marlins have pretty much been eliminated from playoff contention. Meanwhile India’s Reds are in the middle of the NL Wild Card race (just 1.5 games back of the San Diego Padres).
The Reds have not made the playoffs in a normal season since 2013. India’s presence has been a huge factor in Cincinnati’s success. As the season continues, the Marlins will likely take more and more caution with their budding young star in an effort to save him for future seasons. Since the Reds are in a playoff race, India will continue to see the field constantly leading to more opportunities for India to make a name for himself in the eyes of the Rookie of the Year voters.
If the Reds make the playoffs, it will be almost impossible for anyone else to win the award. India absolutely deserves the award this year, and his effect on the Reds’ lineup should not go unnoticed. However, it’s unfortunate that India’s achievement comes at the hand of Rogers facing a family tragedy. Both players have been phenomenal this season, and it would have been a great race for the award down the final stretch of the season, had Rogers not missed any time.
Regardless, congratulations, India! You deserve it — now go make the playoffs!