COMMENTARY | Ask any fan of the Boston Red Sox and they'll tell you just how valuable Daniel Nava has been to the team this season. When Jacoby Ellsbury struggled early in the year, Nava picked up the pieces. When Shane Victorino--a walking infirmary these days--has missed time, Nava has filled in. When Mike Napoli has struck out, something he's done more than anyone in MLB except Chris Carter, Nava was there.
And yet when the All-Star rosters are introduced in Citi Field next week, Nava's name will be nowhere to be found. Not only did he lose out to players whose numbers are inferior nearly across the board--Alex Gordon--but he wasn't even on the ballot to begin with. A correctable oversight, to be sure.
Except it wasn't corrected. The AL Final Vote candidates consisted of solely relievers, as if selecting a 16th pitcher was necessary despite the squad's mounting injuries.
It's understandable. Nava isn't a household name. He's quiet and unassuming, never voicing displeasure despite constantly being moved around in the order and on the field, unable to find any consistency, save for his production which hasn't wavered all year. It could even be argued that Nava has been one of the five most important players on the team this year. In Red Sox wins he's hitting .333 with a .427 OBP.
But you'd never know it outside of Boston. The Red Sox have been conspicuously absent from ESPN coverage this year and Nava even more so. The kid who hit a grand slam in his first at-bat has become virtually unknown otherwise.
And while that might be okay with Nava, he deserves better. He belongs in the All-Star game alongside teammates David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia, and they could certainly use him. That the AL's best team is fighting for World Series homefield advantage with only two of their own players is completely asinine.
He doesn't even have to displace an outfielder. Though he's primarily played beyond the diamond, he has also spent time at both DH and first base. He's produced at an effective clip no matter where he's played, and on both sides of the plate.
And therein lies more of his value: the versatility. There may be no better example of a "plug and play" athlete in MLB than Daniel Nava. The only thing missing from his resume at this point is a bullpen appearance, and with the way the Red Sox relievers have performed lately it might not even be a step down.
With a salary of only $505,000, there are 576 players making more money this year than Nava. In the coming years, he'll get rewarded for his contributions to the team. But how long until he gets recognized?
Boston knows how good he is. It's time the rest of MLB took notice.
Follow him on Twitter @ndrewL7.
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