Okay, it’s not that recent of a promotion anymore, but Nava is still new enough to the bigs that he’s owned in just 2% of Yahoo! leagues despite a rather splashy debut. The Red Sox have been without Jacoby Ellsbury basically all year because of a rib issue, Mike Cameron is playing through an abdominal tear, and J.D. Drew is now battling a hamstring issue (though he should be back this week). Needless to say, playing time in Boston’s outfield is plentiful at the moment for Mr. Nava, who has started every single game in leftfield since being called up on the 12th.
Through 30 plate appearances, the former independent leaguer is hitting a cool .370/.433/.667 (.455 wOBA) with five doubles, five runs scored and seven driven in. Even if you take away that storybook first pitch grand slam, he’s still batting a robust .346/.414/.577. His minor league track record tells you the guy can flat out hit, so this isn’t coming out of nowhere. Nava’s career minor league batting line sits at .342/.434/.545 in close to 1,200 plate appearances, and he hit .294/.364/.492 in 220 Triple-A plate appearances before taking Fenway by storm.
How is he getting done? Well, 52.6% of the balls he’s put in play have been airborne and a whole bunch of those balls are dropping in for hits, 47.4% to be exact. Nava had much more reasonable rates of 41.8% fly balls and a (still high) .389 BABIP in the minors according to the great MinorLeagueSplits.com. It’s also worth noting that the switch hitter performed much better against righthanders in the bush leagues, but so far has come to the plate just four times against southpaws in the majors. Unless the baseball gods smile down on Nava like they have been for seemingly his entire career, a regression to normalcy is coming.
That said, there’s no reason we can’t ride out Nava’s hot streak, especially in an AL-only or deeper mixed league. He’s likely to keep playing every day, but if you do take the plunge and pick him up, make sure you watch the matchups. Boston has dates with a pair of good lefthanders this week (Jonathan Sanchez and Barry Zito), so you’re going to have to pick your spots. CHONE predicted a .256/.325/.361 batting line before the season, but I can definitely see him maintaining a .280-ish AVG with doubles power going forward. Given Boston’s lineup, the RBI and run scoring opportunities should be plentiful.
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