Daniel Nava a true rags to riches story

By Christoph Ludwig
Daniel Nava one of the front runners to get a lot of time in left field for the Los Angeles Angels in 2016: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Nava one of the front runners to get a lot of time in left field for the Los Angeles Angels in 2016: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports /

The Los Angeles Angels signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a 1-year, $1.38 million deal in December, and he’s expected to form a platoon in left field with fellow newcomer Craig Gentry.

Daniel Nava’s story is a true underdog one. After high school, he attempted to walk on to the team at Santa Clara University, but he was cut and ended up becoming the team’s equipment manager for two seasons. Nava became unable to afford the tuition, and transferred to a junior college, College of San Mateo. He tried out for the baseball team there after running into an old friend who encouraged him to do so, and Daniel Nava ended up becoming a Junior College All-American. He transferred back to Santa Clara, this time on a full scholarship, and was named First Team All-WCC.

After Daniel Nava graduated from Santa Clara, he went undrafted, and signed with the Chico Outlaws of the independent Golden Baseball League. He was cut again, but the Outlaws brought him back a year later. Nava was named the #1 independent league prospect in 2007 by Baseball America and was signed by the Red Sox for $1,500. He made his major league debut with the Red Sox in 2010, when he hit a grand slam on the first pitch he saw.

Nava’s best season came with the Red Sox in 2013, when he hit .303/.385/.445 with 12 home runs and 66 RBIs. He spent 2015 with the Red Sox and the Rays, and he struggled with both teams, hitting just a combined .193/.312/.242 in 31 games at the major league level.

Although he’s a switch hitter, Nava is expected to play mostly against righthanded pitchers. For his career, he’s been solid against righties, hitting .281/.377/.409, and 19 of his 24 career home runs have come against righties.

Daniel Nava’s overall career numbers are pretty solid as well, although he has not shown much power hitting only 24 homeruns in 1,388 at-bats.  He has a career .265 batting average and has driven in 172 runs.  The most impressive stat is a career .358 on base percentage which could prove key this season as Nava could be a table setter for Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.

The Angels hope that Nava’s high on base percentage can bring more offense to the left field position, where they were starved for offense last season. The Angels are hoping to take advantage of the two things Nava does well: hit righties, and getting on base.

Last year was Nava’s career worst in batting average as he hit a paltry .163 going 27 for 166 with one home run and 10 RBI’s all career lows.  The Angels are hoping for a new chapter in the Daniel Nava rags to riches story that was his path to the majors.  If Nava can rebound this season it would provide a needed boost in the Angels offense this season.  One can dream right…