BOSTON, MA - June 21: Daniel Nava #66 of the Boston Red Sox and catcher Brett Hayes #9 of the Miami Marlins watch Nava's RBI single to put the Red Sox in the lead during the eighth inning of the game at Fenway Park on June 21, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
On Tuesday, May 10, Daniel Nava got the call back up to The Show. It was a desperation move at the time--Nava wasn't expected to do anything more than provide a warm body in an outfield that had all too few available. His numbers in his original stint in the majors, while decent, hadn't been enough to so much as warrant a look in 2011, and taking into consideration the long-shot nature of his career path, you could be forgiven for expecting that was it for Nava at least as part of the Red Sox.
But with two full outfields on the disabled list he finally got his shot, and here we are six weeks later with "Daniel Nava" and "All-Star" in the same headline.
I'll preface this by saying that there's almost no way Daniel Nava is going to an All-Star. Between his late start, a lack of recognition, and the need for every team to have at least one man on the roster, Nava would have to get very lucky to get in, and frankly might not even deserve it then. As much as it isn't his fault that he wasn't playing until the middle of May, it doesn't change the fact that he's got nothing to show for April.
Still, the incredible fact is that Daniel Nava--Daniel Nava!--is playing like an All-Star, and has been doing so for a good 106 at bats now.
At .340/.455/.519, Nava has a line that can contend with any American League outfielder not named Josh Hamilton. Already third amongst AL outfielders with at least 100 at bats, Nava closes the gap on second place Mark Trumbo when using wOBA given his huge on-base percentage, pulling within a point. Even with only 35 games under his belt, he ranks thirteenth in fWAR, and should rise through the ranks if he maintains his current pace as the number of games missed becomes a smaller percentage of the season-to-date.
Of course, maintaining that rate is where things become problematic. While there's no questioning that Nava has been incredible at the plate so far this year, and that his hits aren't exactly a matter of ground balls finding holes, a .405 BABIP is massive, and unless Nava can continue hitting line drives in nearly a fifth of his at bats that number is going to drop.
Still, even if the average goes down, that OBP can afford to take a pretty big hit. and if Nava can maintain his discipline at the plate then he's got no reason to worry. It's not that pitchers have been working around Nava and his .340 average; in fact he sees a pretty normal number--even above average--number of strikes. He's just completely unwilling to go outside the strike zone, and so far that's worked wonders.
Has Daniel Nava secured his reputation as an MLB regular? Hardly. Some very bad baseball players have had 100 very good trips to the plate. Some have even managed to look legitimate rather than fluky in doing so, as Nava has over the past month.
But for a guy who came into the year with little chance of seeing a major league roster, the fact that he's playing at an All-Star level like this is nothing short of amazing. And until he proves he's something less, he shouldn't have the opportunity taken from him.
Regardless of who gets healthy.