Jonathan India is the 2021 National League Rookie of the Year, and he got there by playing like a veteran.
The Cincinnati Reds second baseman took home the honor on Monday after a season in which he hit .269/.376/.459 with 21 homers and 98 runs. He is the eighth player in Red history to win the award.
India garnered 29 of the 30 first-place votes, topping Miami Marlins pitcher Trevor Rogers and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson.
How Jonathan India ran away with NL Rookie of the Year
India entered this year as a relative long shot to even make the Reds' roster. He wasn't even in the Reds' major-league camp at the start of spring training.
The former fifth overall pick out of Florida played his way into the big-league camp, then the big-league roster. India not only excelled at the plate, but showed he could play a decent second base despite having played only five games there in his minor-league career. The latter was arguably what put him on the opening day roster, as a shift in the Cincinnati infield left an opening at second base.
India began his first MLB season with an up-and-down performance, hitting .476 in his first week before cooling down significantly. He eventually found enough success in his first two months that the Reds decided to try him as their new leadoff hitter. The move worked out to say the least.
Starting every game at leadoff for the rest of the year, India hit .275/.383/.482 in his new slot. Among MLB players with at least 400 plate appearances in the leadoff slot, India ranked ahead of all of them in on-base percentage — a group including Mookie Betts, Jose Altuve and Cedric Mullins II. His 23 hit-by-pitches led the NL.
The Reds ended up finishing seven games short of a wild-card spot, but India's emergence at the age of 24 is one of the reasons to believe in the team going forward. And it's now earned the player some early-career hardware.