'I’m capable of doing a lot in this game': Jonathan India vows to improve in 2023

Jonathan India wants to make it clear, emphasizing it multiple times, he is not making excuses for the 2022 season.

There is no hiding the fact it was a disappointing year for himself and the team. The Cincinnati Reds lost 100 games, the second 100-loss season in club history. India, the reigning National League Rookie of the Year, struggled throughout his second season in the big leagues.

India took a step back offensively, batting .249 with 10 homers, 41 RBI and 48 runs in 103 games. His on-base percentage dropped 49 points from his rookie season and his slugging percentage sunk 81 points. Sports Info Solutions and Statcast rated him as the second-worst defender among MLB second basemen.

Reds GM Nick Krall analysisAnalyzing Reds GM Nick Krall's breakdown of the Cincinnati Reds' plan for 2023

Reds GM Nick Krall comments on season'Unacceptable': Cincinnati Reds GM Nick Krall discusses the club's 100-loss season

Reds David Bell returning in 2023David Bell to return for 2023 season, Cincinnati Reds dismiss five coaches from staff

Injuries were an issue all year. India had two stints on the injured list with a hamstring strain in his right leg, and the second stint cost him 39 games. He was hit by a pitch on his left leg during the Field of Dreams game in August, and a hematoma, blood pooling under the skin, led to swelling throughout the remainder of the season.

“It started with the hamstring, which sucked,” India said. “I’ve never been hurt like that. It was just a grind for me to get through a serious injury like that. After I tried to come back, got hit in the shin. There were so many little things that affected me. I’m not making excuses. I didn’t have one of the seasons I wanted to have. I didn’t have a great season, but I definitely tried. I gave it my all.”

Reds second baseman Jonathan India watches from the dugout in the third inning of a game between the Reds and Brewers on Sept. 23.
Reds second baseman Jonathan India watches from the dugout in the third inning of a game between the Reds and Brewers on Sept. 23.

There were flashes of India at his best during the summer. He had a two-month stretch where he hit .306, which included 16-game hit streak and a separate 17-game on-base streak. The Reds had a 26-24 record in those games he played during that stretch.

He admitted he tried to do too much at the beginning of the season. Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez were traded in spring training. Nick Castellanos left as a free agent. India wanted to make up for those losses and it affected his own game, attempting to hit for more power.

Reds record low GABP attendanceReds set record-low attendance in Great American Ball Park history during 100-loss season

Reds biggest surprise Alexis DiazReds closer Alexis Díaz surprised himself at times during 'unexpected' rookie year

“Even in spring training, it kind of took the wind out of us, I think,” India said. “For me, my first year I had all these guys that I looked up to and they’re all gone. I felt like I was alone, me and (Kyle) Farmer. It was tough at the beginning, and then I went through the injury and it kind of messed me up a little bit more.”

Reds second baseman Jonathan India and third baseman Kyle Farmer embrace before a game on Sept. 14.
Reds second baseman Jonathan India and third baseman Kyle Farmer embrace before a game on Sept. 14.

What made the Reds’ roster teardown unique, following an 83-win season, is most of the trades happened after the team was together in spring training because of the lockout. The first team meeting of spring training was canceled because Winker and Suárez were traded minutes beforehand.

Four players were traded in the first four days of camp. Opposing players around the league privately said they felt terrible for India and catcher Tyler Stephenson because they’d spend some prime years of their career in a rebuild.

“It was sad because it was so unexpected,” India said. “I couldn't believe it. Everyone was in shock. We were losing everyone, everyone was gone. You know, it's the business. It was my first time experiencing something like that. As a second-year guy, people were looking at me like a vet now. Like, oh my god, it's my second year. I'm still working on things.”

Reds second baseman Jonathan India takes a swing during a game against the Chicago Cubs on Oct. 4.
Reds second baseman Jonathan India takes a swing during a game against the Chicago Cubs on Oct. 4.

India, who will turn 26 in December, vows to be better next season. He learned a lot this season whether it was things in his own game or recognizing the business side of the sport that pushes teams toward rebuilds.

“It was hard to come in and be that voice again,” India said. “It was difficult with so many interchangeable parts in and out this year. There was nothing I could do. There was nothing any of us could do. We have to prepare ourselves every day mentally and physically to go out and perform. I'm just excited for next year. I'm ready to come back strong.”

The Reds’ coaching staff thought it was as valuable of a season for India as his rookie year. It didn’t go the way he wanted, but the lessons he learned will make him a better player in the future.

“My goal is to play 162 (games) one year,” India said. “I told David (Bell) that and I let a lot of people know that. That’s who I want to be, that player that plays every game and is there no matter what, how bad it is or how good it is. That’s my main focus for the offseason is to prepare my body for that.”

Reds second baseman Jonathan India steps out of the batter's box during his at-bat during a game on Sept. 20.
Reds second baseman Jonathan India steps out of the batter's box during his at-bat during a game on Sept. 20.

India knows the team will continue to lean more on him. He’s one of the core position players for the rebuild, along with Stephenson, and the organization hopes to add to that group throughout the 2023 season.

“I'll be a third year-guy now and I'm ready for it,” India said. “Guys on this field this year haven't had a month of service. It was tough. You look at our record and it's like, 'oh, they lost 100.' We had a new team almost every week.

“All we can do is come back stronger next year. We have a hell of a pitching staff with three aces on the mound. We’ve got some young guys in the system that are going to help next year and we’ll see what we do in the offseason. All I can do is prepare myself, be a leader next year and play hard for my team. That’s all I’m going to do. I’m not going to worry about who we pick up, who we get. I’m not going to involve myself with that. Just play hard and be a leader next year.”

Reds left fielder TJ Friedl and infielder Alejo Lopez congratulate Jonathan India after a walk-off hit in a win over the Rockies on Sept. 2.
Reds left fielder TJ Friedl and infielder Alejo Lopez congratulate Jonathan India after a walk-off hit in a win over the Rockies on Sept. 2.

The roster teardown was frustrating. The injuries were tough. The level of play throughout the year wasn’t where India wanted it.

As soon as the season ended, India was ready to put the 2022 season in the past.

“I know I’m capable of doing a lot in this game,” India said. “I’m very confident. It’s going to be a hell of a year next year, I know it.”

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Jonathan India vows to improve for Cincinnati Reds during 2023 season