Following an abysmal start to the 2014 campaign in which Daniel Nava slashed .130/.221/.234 through the first two months, the Red Sox outfielder has picked up the pace at his vintage 2013 level.
Daniel Nava represents one of the great stories in baseball, signing a $1 contract with Boston in desperation for a shot at the big leagues. Not even earning a spot on his college baseball team, Nava never lost sight of his dream, and in his first at-bat in the majors in 2010, Nava belted a grand-slam over the right field wall. After further development in the minors, he joined the Red Sox again in 2012, this time as a fixture.
Nava was an integral part of the 2013 World Series champions, providing a middle-of-the-order presence that was a perpetual on-base threat. His collapse from an .831 OPS last year to his end of May .455 OPS was a major reason for the offensive struggles of the 2014 Red Sox. His walk-rate was down, his power was non-existent, and he couldn’t get around on an inside pitch, resulting in constant pop-ups.
However, recently Nava has turned it on at the dish, batting .308 with a .401 on-base percentage since June 2nd. The timing was perfect for Nava, as a prolonged struggle would have resulted in an exile from the big leagues, especially after the July 31st trade deadline. The Red Sox added outfielders Yoenis Céspedes and Allen Craig at the deadline, along with signing Cuban center fielder Rusney Castillo and the emergence of rookie Mookie Betts. With these moves, Boston has a surplus in the outfield, and Nava has played his way right back into the mix.
The Red Sox are looking forward to 2015, and Nava is going to have to continue his excellent play to earn consideration for a spot. Betts and Céspedes look like fixtures for the future outfield barring any trades, and a strong impression from Castillo could take the last spot. Nava has some versatility, as he can play first base, which makes him a good candidate to come off the bench and spot-start when the regulars get days off.
Nava has proven to the Red Sox front office that he is still capable of above-average production, and even if he can’t win a spot as a starter, he can make for an extremely valuable asset either off the bench or in a trade.