From The Fantasy Oracle 2016 MLB Draft Guide Is Here! 

2014 Fantasy Baseball Profile: Daniel Nava

Daniel Nava was much better than you thought last season. Will he enjoy as much success in the coming campaign?

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The Red Sox' Daniel Nava had a hell of a season in 2013 but you may not have noticed. Nava didn't play every day, he didn’t blast a ton of homers, and he didn't steal a single base. 'But Ray, I thought you said that he had a hell of a season. How could he have if your second sentence is accurate?' Glad you asked (how weird is it when I quote people in a made up way? I've always been a bit of a free thinker so I'm gonna roll with it. It makes my point regardless, so it works). Let's delve in to Nava who must be a great guy considering that he was literally born about eight miles south of me (he has a great story you can read about too).

Nava hit .303 last season. That was the 8th best mark in the American League. Nava had a better mark than guys like Eric Hosmer (.302) and teammates Dustin Pedroia (.301) and Jacoby Ellsbury (.298). Were you aware of that?

Nava had a .385 OBP last season. That was the 5th best mark in the American League. Nava had a better mark than guys like Robinson Cano (.383), Adrian Beltre (.371) and Chris Davis (.370). Were you aware of that?

Nava had an .831 OPS last season. That was 16th the best mark in the American League. Nava had a better mark than guys like Prince Fielder (.819), Jason Kipnis (.818) and Adam Jones (.811). Were you aware of that?

You had no idea he was as successful as he was last season. He wasn't just good he excelled. You're  going to have to pay close attention to what follows in this report because you need to learn more about a guy who was such a healthy performer last season.

On the surface it appears that one of the reasons that Nava had so much success was that the Red Sox used him properly. By that I mean that they limited his work against lefties. Here are the splits that the switch hitter posted.

vs. lefties: .252/.311/.336
vs. righties: .322/.411/.484

Two things. He was an all-star caliber performer against righties which is a good thing since the vast majority of starters are right-handed. Second, this is a trend that has taken place for the duration of his career. Here are the splits from his 282 game big league career.

vs. lefties: .223/.307/.328
vs. righties: .292/.390/.443

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Nava will face some lefties, but if there is a big time lefty on the bump chances are that Nava might be on the bench. This presents a problem of course. If you're in a league with daily substitutions you will be fine. However, if you're in a league where you only set your lineup once a week there will be times where Nava's just not out there every day. The likely loss of some work against lefties also posses another problem. The upside of Nava is capped. If he's losing 20 games a year to lefties there's little chance that he's going to offer substantially more in the counting categories than he did last season. Again, this issue is minimized if you can change your lineup on a daily basis as you can simply slot another player into his spot in the lineup on the day he sits out which would allow that spot in your lineup to produce bigger numbers, even if the spot is occupied by two players (people often forget that it's about the spot in your lineup as much as it is about the player. You've got 162 games at the position --- just make sure you fill them with an active player and you're in good shape. As long as you can backfill, slot in a solid player when your #1 is down, then you should be alright).

Nava hit .303 last season which falls right in line with his minor league production (.317). His BABIP was high at .352 and his line drive rate was through the roof at 26.1 percent (those marks were 15th and 12th in baseball last season). It's not impossible to think that Nava could repeat those numbers but I can't let my bias for the hometown fella to cloud my judgment. The odds that Nava hits both those numbers again is below 10 percent. Both numbers will almost certainly regress and that means another run to .300 may not be in the cards for the pride of Redwood City. It would probably be smart to target his .274 career mark with a reasonable expectation that he could better that number.

Nava is 5'10” and checks in at about 200 lbs, a decent sized guy he is. However, he's no muscle bound monster so he's never really been a big home run threat. Truthfully, he's barely a moderate power threat. Nava hit 51 homers in the minors and if we break down his minor league effort to let's say his average output per 135 games he would have produced 15 homers. He hit 12 homers for the Sox last season. Sounds about right. With a career fly ball rate of 40 percent he hits a few more fly balls than most, but his seven percent HR/F ratio bares out the belief that he's just not very likely to drive the ball into the seats with any regularity.

Nava doesn't have any stolen base speed. He's swiped four bags while being caught three times during his Red Sox tenure. During his time in the minors he stole 37 bases in 446 games. He's not gonna offer you any help in this category.

Could Nava hit .300 again with a strong OBP? He could. Is he likely to steal 10 bases? No chance. Could he hit 20 homers? It's possible but the odds of it happening are slimmer than a runway model in a swimsuit (it also doesn't bode well for a potential homer outbreak when we note that he's already 30 years old). What that means is that Nava might just be a better real world player than he is an impressive fantasy option. Those in traditional mixed league setups should look at Nava as a 5th outfielder type (he moves up the board if your league uses OBP). Nava is much more desirable in an AL-only league where he might even rise to the level of a player you would want to target.

At least you know how good he was in 2013 now.  


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