There was a time when Daniel Nava was little more than an inspiring story.

There have been times this season it's been easy to forget about that story.

"That's probably the biggest thing he's done right?" Boston general manager Ben Cherington said. "Nobody is talking about the Golden League anymore. He's just a good major-league player."

As the playoffs approach it's worth taking a step back to consider just how good Nava has become. He's far beyond the promising find out of the independent Golden League. He's much more than an at-bat grinder capable of compiling absurd on-base percentages against sometimes erratic minor-league pitching.

After Nava doubled twice and singled twice on Sunday night against the New York Yankees his on-base percentage for the season stands at .392 fifth-best in the American League. He trails only Miguel Cabrera Mike Trout Joe Mauer and David Ortiz -- the elitest of elite company. As much as any other player in the game he's in complete control of what's happening when he's at the plate.

It's tempting to look back at what Nava has done in his career and suggest this should have been easy to see coming. He posted a .427 on-base percentage in more than 500 plate appearances at High-A. He posted a .479 on-base percentage in a month-plus at Double-A. He posted matching .372 on-base percentages in back-to-back seasons at Triple-A.

But Nava was older than his peers at each of those levels thanks the circuitous route he took to professional baseball washing uniforms for his first two years of college before anyone would let him wear one. Dominating the High-A Carolina League at 26 doesn't mean the same thing to scouts as it does at 19 the way Xander Bogaerts did.
And many others before him have demonstrated that going from minor-league on-base machine to impact major-league hitter is no easy transition. Jeff Bailey never did it. Dan Johnson never did it. Kila Ka'aihue never did it. Paul McAnulty never did it. PawSox outfielder Alex Hassan a close friend of Nava is still trying to figure out how to do it.