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2017 Arizona Diamondbacks Review #27, Nick Ahmed

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For the second season in a row, the defensively-gifted shortstop missed a fair amount of time to injury.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
  • Date of birth: March 15, 1990
  • 2017 line: 53 games, 178 PA, .251/.298/.419 = .717 OPS
  • 2017 value: 0.2 bWAR, 0.2 fWAR
  • 2017 salary: minimum, arbitration starts 2018
  • SnakePit rating: 5.18

2017 analysis

The season saw Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings both slated to split time at shortstop, with Brandon Drury slated to get the lion’s share of the starts across the diamond at second. For the most part, the time-share at short worked well enough. The position itself was, however, rather underwhelming. As profiled recently by Jim, Arizona’s shortstops combined for 0.8 bWAR, 22nd in all of baseball.

For Ahmed’s part, he was as most would expect in 2017. Though his fielding did not rate as elite as it has in the past, he was still far and away the best defender at the position, and it wasn’t terribly close. At the plate though, he was on the opposite end of the spectrum, rating the poorest offensively. To his credit though, and to the credit of the coaching and managerial staff for exploiting the platoon split, Ahmed was more than serviceable against left-handed pitching, posting a batting line of .396/.453/.625 for a 1.078 OPS.

Ahmed’s season was cut short (again) by injury. when he took a 99 mph Trevor Rosenthal fastball off his wrist on June 27th. At the time, the hope had been that Ahmed would be able to return in time for the much-anticipated Diamondbacks’ playoff run. On the day Nick Ahmed was eligible to return from the 60-day disabled list, Ahmed was hit by a pitch again while making a final rehab appearance in Reno. This broke his wrist (the same one which had previously been injured), ending any chance at his returning for any portion of the 2017 season.

2018 prospects

Nick Ahmed remains the only true shortstop on Arizona’s roster. While Chris Owings and Ketel MArte are both more gifted at the plate, both have their respective issues when it comes to playing defense. As pointed out, Ahmed’s defense in 2017 wasn’t quite as slick as it had been in previous season. This may have come from not playing as often, or it might have come from aging. Chances are it was probably a bit of both. Despite this, it would take a massive decline in performance for Ahmed not to remain the best defensive option for the position. As Arizona fans saw in 2017, quality depth can disappear in a hurry. Given Ahmed’s defensive skill and his success against left-handed pitching, it seems a pretty safe bet that Ahmed will return as Arizona’s shortstop against left-handed starters for 2018 as well as being a possible late-inning defensive replacement.