He was drafted by the Braves. A friend, who is a Braves fan, gave me a signed Nick Ahmed baseball card. That gift prompted me to take a final look at Nick Ahmed.
In January of 2013, the Diamondbacks acquired him as part of the Justin Upton trade. Now, he is gone. He left with sadness and little fanfare. You may want to take a quick look at Farewell to Nick Ahmed.
I hereby nominate James Attwood as Nick Ahmed’s official SnakePit historian. That’s because he wrote all seven of Ahmed’s season reviews between 2017 and 2023. Links follow:
“For the second season in a row, the defensively-gifted shortstop missed a fair amount of time to injury.” — 2017 Season Review.
“One of the true pleasures to watch play for the 2018 Arizona Diamondbacks.” — 2018 Season Review.
“It seems the plucky shortstop from the University of Connecticut has finally silenced his doubters.” — 2019 Season Review.
“Arizona’s slick fielding shortstop was one of the few Diamondbacks to more or less shrug off the performance issues of the pandemic season.” — 2020 Season Review.
“Arizona’s defensive star took a step back from his stellar performance in 2020.” — 2021 Season Review.
“It was a rough and short season for the incumbent starting shortstop.” — 2022 Season Review.
“It isn’t like the final season of Nick Ahmed’s tenure in the desert was anything to brag about.” — 2023 Season Review.
Age Matters at Shortstop.
From 2016 to 2021, Nick Ahmed was arguably the best defensive shortstop in the Majors. The following table shows that his Outs Above Average (OAA) were extremely high those seasons. The caveat is that his arm strength was average in 2020, and has fallen after that.
Because the general wisdom tells us that shortstop defense peaks at age 25 or 26, Nick Ahmed was amazing for many years beyond his peak. Looking ahead, two Diamondbacks’ shortstops (Geraldo Perdomo, age 24, and Jordan Lawlar, age 21) are very talented and they are years away from their peak performances.
How does Nick Ahmed’s story continue?
Let’s look at three possible paths, each of which includes its own possibilities for continued success.
Platoon at shortstop with a different team. Last season, Nick Ahmed’s defense was strong (at the 90th percentile). His batting against right-handed pitchers remained strong.
The following table shows that last season his OBP and SLG were better than the average shortstop. One caveat is that the table shows that his exit velocities were lower than the average shortstop, which raises the question of whether his above-average batting will continue.
Perhaps the White Sox could benefit by platooning Paul DeJong and Nick Ahmed at shortstop. Instead, ZiPS projection’s depth chart shows a platoon of DeJong and Colson Montgomery. After only 51 games in AA, and no games in AAA, Montgomery may not be ready for the Majors.
Move to second base with a different team. Surprisingly for an excellent defender, Nick Ahmed’s arm strength is less than average. Moving to second base would make that weakness less important. He played 137 innings at second base in his career (including 11 innings in the Majors).
Leave baseball and focus on his health platform. His on-line website offers memberships (membership seems to be free, but I am not a member). Members can obtain coaching (unlikely to be free), can obtain discounts on specific products, and can read articles that teach “people how to live healthier and more successful lives.”
“Nick recently launched a new platform called 7 Pillar Health and Performance. He explains, “Within this new platform I will be sharing everything I’ve learned about optimal health and peak performance on and off the field.” You can check that out here, and follow him on Instagram and Twitter @NickAhmed13.” — MLBTR
Nick Ahmed was a great defensive shortstop with the Diamondbacks. Diamondback fans have said their farewells. Whatever path Nick Ahmed follows, many fans wish him continued successes.