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Preview, #152: 9/17 vs. Marlins

No Ahmed. :(

Cincinnati Reds v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Nick Ahmed’s finger, bitten by a groundball during last night’s victory, has proven problematic enough to keep him out of the line-up tonight. He was originally listed as playing, but had some issues in warm-up, and so was a late scratch, with Ildemaro Vargas taking over. It’ll be a rare absence for Nick, who had started all but five of the 151 games so far, most on the team. His lead becomes even more apparent when you look at complete games among position players. His 137 is twenty-three more than the second-most on the 2019 Diamondbacks, Eduardo Escobar. That makes sense: you’re not exactly going to bring in a late inning defensive replacement for Ahmed.

Only four players in the National League have more complete games than Nick, at any position. Three of them are first basement (Rhys Hoskins, Freddie Freeman and Eric Hosmer), with the other being Atlanta second-baseman, Ozzie Albies. Among shortstops, Ahmed’s 1,290 innings is easily the most; Paul DeJong (STL) and Amed Rosario (NYM) are the only even at 1,175 coming into play today. And the quality of Nick’s defense at one of the toughest positions, goes without saying. The metrics largely confirm him as one of the best with the glove at any position - though for some reason, UZR has him as 6th among NL shortstops. Another Gold Glove seems quite likely.

This isn’t a surprise. It’s his offense which has improved steadily. Amazing to think that, just three years ago, Ahmed played in 90 games and batted .218/.265/.299 for an OPS of just .564. Among the 286 men with as many appearances that year, his OPS+ of 46 ranked Ahmed... 286th. But it jumped up to 79 the following season, and continued to improve in both 2018 and 2019: he’s at an OPS+ of 93 this year. Career highs in just about every offensive category are within reach for Nick. Remember the Justin Upton trade in January 2013? Ahmed may end up being the most valuable piece involved, and end up tipping the balance of it in favor of the Diamondbacks.