The emergence of Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed as a hitter has started to get him some attention. But he’s still underrated, an ESPN writer said.
David Schoenfield made a list of one player of each team “we should appreciate more when baseball resumes.” The list included players all over the map, from star power like the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw to relative unknowns like the Padres’ Dinelson Lamet and veterans like the Yankees’ Brett Gardner.
But Ahmed was his pick for the D-backs, and understandably so.
Part of a powerhouse UConn team that included George Springer and Matt Barnes (all three went in the first two rounds of the 2011 draft), Ahmed looked like a utility infielder after his first few years in the league, when he didn’t hit much. But he has added just enough power to go with his elite defense — he has won back-to-back Gold Gloves while averaging 57 extra-base hits — that the total package has made him one of the more underrated players in the league.
Indeed, Ahmed was known primarily as a defensive specialist when he first was in the big leagues. He hit only .221 his first three years with 14 total home runs.
With steady improvement since then, he had a career offensive year in 2019 with a .254 average, .753 OPS, 19 home runs, 82 RBIs, eight steals, 33 doubles and six triples.
Not bad when you consider he won a Gold Glove Award for the second straight season.
The 30-year-old got a contract extension this offseason for four years and $32.5 million.
“Just getting a little bit better every day,” he told Arizona Sports in February. “Just using the available information and help myself to get better on a daily basis and be consistent about making the work smart. When you do that, you look up at the end of the year and you end up having a good year.”