COMMENTARY| Daniel Nava was an afterthought when spring training began. He was just another outfielder on a team loaded with them. However, Nava has been one of the best storylines so far this season as the Boston Red Sox continue to impress in the American League East. The 30 year-old is arguably having the best season of any outfielder on the team and he certainly deserves to be on the American League All-Star team.
It's been an incredible season for Nava, who again, wasn't even in the discussion to be an everyday player for Boston. However, the pieces started to fall into place as early as offseason when outfield prospect Bryce Brentz accidently shot himself. Brentz wasn't expected to make the team, but a hot spring could have changed that. And then in January it was announced that Ryan Kalish would need yet another surgery before making his comeback. He has yet to return. All eyes would fix onto Jackie Bradley Jr. who hit over .400 in the spring. He was the fans' and team's choice to be the starting left fielder on opening day.
Meanwhile, Nava waited for an opportunity, something he has been very familiar with throughout his seven-plus year career. Going undrafted after college, Nava spent time in the independent leagues before getting picked up by Boston. He made his Red Sox debut three years later in 2010, but spent the entire 2011 season in Triple-A. Nava did play 88 games last year in Boston, but wasn't expected to be a factor this season.
So, when Bradley struggled out of the gates, Nava wasn't the one looked to; it was Jonny Gomes. But it wouldn't take long for Nava to start playing more. And it was well deserved.
Nava was productive right out of the gates, hitting .289 with 16 RBIs in April. There was no cooling off in May, as Nava drove in another 17 runs with an outstanding .394 OBP. Nava continued the solid numbers in June with an additional 16 RBIs. He's on pace for 90 RBIs this season. This is pretty impressive for a player expected to play sparingly.
Nava's first half should have culminated with a trip to Queens, NY, for this year's All-Star game. However, it was not the case, as Nava was not picked as a reserve for the American League team. Nelson Cruz, Alex Gordon and Torii Hunter were selected for the reserved spots. All three are respectable selections, though an argument can be made that Nava deserves to be in.
Nava's current line is a .290 BA, with 10 HRs, 50 RBIs and an OBP of .380. Cruz does have stronger production (22 HRs and 67 RBIs), but lags behind in average and BOP (.275 and .333). And Gordon and Hunter only have higher averages than Nava (.297 and .309 respectfully).
Nava also has plenty of intangibles. He plays on a first place team (something Gordon can't say). He isn't suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs (something Cruz can't say). He hasn't committed an error in the field (something Hunter can't say).
There is certainly an argument to be made that Nava should be headed to his first ever All-Star game. However, it won't change the fact that he continues to have a career season for the Red Sox, and is one of the main reasons why Boston has one of the best records in baseball. The days of taking Nava for granted in Red Sox Nation are over.
Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox. You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, ME or at thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.
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