clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

2017 Phillies player reviews: Daniel Nava

“Never ever gonna get it (no, not this time); no, you're never gonna get it (my love).”

Philadelphia Phillies v Boston Red Sox Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Due to the popularity and extreme coolness of using Daniel Nava’s last name as a lyric from the timeless, relevant song “You’re Never Gonna Get It” by En Vogue, this player review will trace Nava’s 2017 season using lyrics from the 1992 smash hit.

I remember how it used to be

You never was this nice, you can't fool me

As baseball fans, we of course all have a pocket of Daniel Nava memories to warm our cockles throughout winter’s endless night. Remember when he hit a grand slam off Joe Blanton to give the Red Sox the lead over the Phillies on the first pitch of his first major league at-bat? Folks, I don’t shut up about it.

But it hasn’t been all humiliations of Joe Blanton along the way. Nava had come off the bench and traumatized a few hurlers in some key spots going into this season, and had a torrid 2013 that seems to have set the bar high both numbers and health-wise. But as the Phillies were signing 33-year-old (now 34) Daniel Nava to a minor league deal in December 2016, MLB Trade Rumors reminded us that, “It has been some time since Nava was a productive major leaguer.” He hit .303 with an .821 OPS for the Red Sox in 2013 and was rewarded a World Series ring for his trouble. But he was a long way from being that player four years later, with the representatives of a last place team sitting across from him, handing him a pen.

“You never was this nice,” Matt Klentak seemed to be saying by offering Nava a minor league deal. “You can’t fool me.”

Now you talkin' like you made a change

The more you talk, the more things sound the same

Everybody seemed to know and understand who Nava was. When he was brought on board there was no such thing as outfielder Rhys Hoskins or professional inside-the-park-home-run hitter Nick Williams. There was just center fielder Odubel Herrera and two spots veterans were going to fill on either side of him.

Therefore, there was no real reason to assume Nava would be anything more than outfield depth with the occasional pop in sporadic playing time. Filling the teeniest of holes on Rays, Angels, and Royals rosters, Nava was a flickering presence, always hindered by injury or inconsistency. Change was tough to make when he was only getting into 40-50 games a year. He knew how to hit minor league pitching, at least.

Naturally, then, in his first Phillies appearance, he clattered two baseballs off the soaking wet, empty seats of Great American Ball Park on April 6 in his first two Phillies AB.

What makes you think you can just walk back into her life

Without a good fight?

Indeed. The Good Phight did play a huge role in Nava’s 2017 season.

Sorry, I’m not really paying attention.

I just sit back and watch you make a fool of yourself

Cuz you're just wasting your time, oh

This is sort of a mean song, isn’t it? Like, it’s probably deserved to whoever they’re singing to, but if anyone were to use it as a framing device to review a perfectly friendly major league player’s solid year, it could come across as needlessly harsh.

Nava did not make a fool of himself, being the name I kept shouting when people asked who the Phillies could deal at the trade deadline. When everything calmed down on August 1, Nava was essentially the only veteran who hadn’t been dealt or cut.

“And now it’s time for breakdown,” the baseball gods said, and Nava’s body did break down. He ducked out of view with a recurring hamstring issue and was missed by Matt Klentak’s feverish dealing. He could have found a good home somewhere, too; on July 21 he was slashing .303/.400/.408 through 65 games. Returning from the DL, he wasted no time, logging a three-hit game on August 5 and finishing the season hitting .301 in 80 games and offering the Phillies 1.2 WAR.

No, you're never gonna get it

Never ever gonna get it (no, not this time)

No, you're never gonna get it (my love)

Never ever gonna get it

He did, though. Nava got it. If it weren’t for injuries, Nava was on pace to be one of the Phillies’ best hitters in 2017, continuing the story of his career that’s basically just a series of shorter, smaller underdog redemption stories. Who knows where Nava will wind up in 2018, but it will be (bold prediction forthcoming) somewhere—he hit .341 vs. RHP this year, and, when available, was at least consistently flirting with a .300 overall BA.

A team needing some left-handed veteran bench grit or at least one game-winning home run at a moment no one was expecting? You’re never gonna get it anywhere else than Daniel Nava.*

*I mean, probably this is untrue but those are the lyrics and I cannot change them.