India wins NL ROY: 'I made it come true'

Reds 2B fulfills prediction from spring, receiving 29 of 30 1st-place votes

November 16th, 2021

CINCINNATI -- put it out into the universe during spring, and now it can be written. The Reds' second baseman was named the 2021 National League Rookie of the Year on Monday.

In voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, India received 29 of the 30 first-place votes and one second-place vote for 148 points.

“That was just one thing that came to my mind at Spring Training,” India said from his hometown in South Florida. “I could have said, ‘I want to hit 40 homers, or I want to get MVP,’ but that was the one thing that stuck to me before I started the year was, ‘You know what? I am going to win Rookie of the Year this year.’ I said it on interviews. I just had a feeling that was what I wanted, and I was going to accomplish it.”

India, 24, is the eighth Reds player to win the award and the first since reliever Scott Williamson in 1999. Third baseman Chris Sabo was the club’s last position player to win it, in 1988. Pete Rose was the last second baseman from Cincinnati to win the award, in 1963.

Marlins pitcher Trevor Rogers received the lone remaining first-place vote, 26 second-place votes and three for third place for 86 points. Cardinals outfielder Dylan Carlson was third with three second-place votes and 13 for third place and 22 points.

A pair of India’s teammates also received votes. Catcher was tied for sixth with two third-place votes. Pitcher was given one third-place vote to finish tied for eighth.

India was an easy choice for voters after a remarkable season where he batted .269/.376/.459 with 21 home runs and 69 RBIs in 150 games. He led the NL by being hit by a pitch 23 times. He also led the Reds with 12 steals, 98 runs and 150 games played.

Among rookies, India topped the Major Leagues in games, on-base percentage, doubles (34), walks (71) and runs scored while ranking second with an .835 OPS.

“You can never really set on: 'He's going to win, he's got the odds are with him,' but I was excited more than anything,” India said of winning. “I had butterflies in my stomach until this moment. It was an amazing feeling. I told you guys at the beginning that I wanted this award. I said it out in words, and I made it come true.”

India’s win was revealed during an MLB Network broadcast with Reds great, Hall of Famer and 1968 NL Rookie of the Year Johnny Bench making the announcement.

“To have him announce my name, a legend like that, it's the coolest thing ever,” India said. “He put the [Reds] hat on, that's how he announced it, that was pretty cool for me. That was a pretty cool moment in my career. I'll always remember that -- Johnny Bench announcing me as the Rookie of the Year.”

After Bench declared him the winner, India grinned wide as the family members who surrounded him offered hugs and kisses. The group included his parents, sister, girlfriend and grandmother.

“That actually helped me,” India said. “They made me feel calm and less nervous. I’m happy they were here to relieve the nerves a little bit and help me be myself a little bit during these interviews. I’m happy they are here.”

The fifth overall pick by the Reds in 2018 out of the University of Florida, India spent the shortened 2020 season at the club’s alternate training site. An injury prevented him from getting a promotion to the Major Leagues. He came into 2021 with only a spot in Minor League camp at Spring Training.

But India was hitting his way into big league camp in mid-March and played so well that he was the Opening Day starting second baseman. Although he had a strong first week, struggles followed. India’s season didn’t really take off until being moved to the leadoff spot of manager David Bell’s lineup on June 5. India went 2-for-4 with a homer, a double and a walk, and the change became permanent.

From there, India had a .382 OBP in 105 games with 17 homers and 82 runs.

“He’s gotten on base quite a bit this year. But he’s also been an immediate threat to put a run up right away,” first baseman Joey Votto said near the season’s end. “That’s a very big deal. Today, he’s an extreme competitor, one of the most competitive players I’ve ever played with. He always wants to play. He’s played when he wasn’t 100 percent. He doesn’t complain. He plays hard. He takes pride in his defense. He wants to be better at every single aspect of the game.”

India made a hitting approach adjustment shortly before moving to the leadoff spot, by incorporating a toe tap for improved rhythm. But he felt there was more intangible reasons why he rose to the top.

“I think it's just the way I approach the game, when I'm out there, my actions, my competitiveness. It's above,” India said. “I'll go to battle against anyone. I think that's what stands out the most about my game, the player and the competitiveness on the field and how bad I want to win.”