Moments big & small make India's ROY case

September 21st, 2021

CINCINNATI -- When a star player and likely future Hall of Famer hits two of a team’s four homers in a comeback win, in the middle of a Wild Card race, with only a handful of games remaining on the schedule, a less-exciting base on balls isn’t going to initially draw a lot of attention.

But ’s two-out walk in the third inning of Monday’s frenzied 9-5 win over the Pirates got the party started and was mentioned by everyone who spoke postgame, including the man of the hour, Joey Votto, whose two homers were the main reason the Reds snuck away with the win.

“Pivotal at-bat,” Votto said of India’s walk.

“It's a good reminder it's not always the homer, the double,” manager David Bell added. “Those are so important, but it’s the at-bats leading up to it.”

India’s walk opened the first of two floodgates that allowed the Reds to get back into the game at a time when they cannot afford to lose any more contests, especially to the last-place team in their division. If the Reds do end up pulling this off -- and it’s looking like more of a long shot, given the Cardinals were three games ahead of them for the second National League Wild Card spot heading into play on Tuesday -- they’ll be able to point to a few things that had to fall into place through the long season.

One of those will be Votto’s resurgence, which has made him a force again in the middle of the lineup. Another will be India, who is making a strong case to win the NL Rookie of the Year Award. He’d be the club’s first ROY since right-hander Scott Williamson won in 1999, and the first position player since third baseman Chris Sabo in 1988.

India, 24, has stamina in his favor -- he had played in 140 games heading into Tuesday’s game, already a full slate by any rookie standards. And he has the numbers to back up his candidacy, even with a slight dip in the past month.

India is tied for eighth in the NL in on-base percentage (.373) and 22nd with an .829 OPS. He is the first rookie in Major League history to record at least 20 homers and 10 stolen bases while being plunked 20 times.

Drawing a walk in a big win isn’t going to be what voters look at when it’s time to cast ballots at the end of the regular season, but for those who watch India every day, those smaller items don't go unnoticed. They can be good indicators of what may come.

“The fact that he's worked his way into the leadoff spot into the lineup doesn't hurt either, because he's leading everything off for us, and leading the way,” Bell said. “He's a young player who has great leadership abilities without even trying to do anything. He's just natural.

“His nature is [to] attack and be aggressive and be ready and not being afraid of anything. That approach at the plate has led to more walks and at-bats like he did last night. He has meant a lot to our team.”