Jonathan India has been involved in trade rumors for more than a year. The 2021 NL Rookie of the Year has endured two seasons of less than stellar numbers. Is this who India is now?
The answer is no.
Before I get to that the stat that proves this isn’t who he is, let’s compare last year with his rookie season. We tend to believe that India’s Rookie of the Year performance was miles better than what he did in 2023.
India slashed .269/.375/.459 in his rookie year. It dropped to .244/.338/.407 last season. He had more homers, more runs scored, more RBI, and a better walk rate. A significant amount of the counting stats can be explained by India playing 31 more games in 2021 than 2023.
If you look at his per-game average for his homers, run scored, and RBI, India would have either equaled or exceeded the totals of all those categories from his rookie season had he played the same number of games in 2023. So if his counting stats are simply explained by playing more games, that can’t be a viable reason to give up on India.
This then brings me to the number that vindicates India: batting average on balls in play.
This is a stat that shows how lucky, or unlucky, a player is. Whether the batter or the pitcher, this stat shows the percentage of baseballs put in play that fell for a hit. Did the batter hit the ball right at the gloves of the defense? Did the pitcher have a horrible defense behind them?
India had a .326 BABIP for his rookie season. His BABIP in 2023? 45 points lower at .281. When you look at the other metrics, nothing is much different from 2021. His plate discipline is pretty much the same. His rate of contact the same. The only major difference from 2021 to 2023 is simply that less of the balls he put in play fell for hits.
That 45 points produced a batting average 24 points less, between the two seasons. That’s it.
Should India have better luck next season, he will be more productive. When you add in luck and health, he will produce the kind of stats and remind us why he’s one of the leaders on this Reds team.