As potent an offensive squad as the Arizona Diamondbacks sport, their middle infield has always left something to be desired. Despite flashes, no one they place at second base or shortstop has consistently brought the offensive play.
We’ve seen solid stretches from Ketel Marte and Daniel Descalso for the Arizona Diamondbacks. But Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed have never been able to piece it together at the plate. At least on a consistent basis. June, however, has given us a little bit of confidence in regard to the latter.
I’ve always been a Nick Ahmed fan. Then again, I’m a sucker for defensive stars who demonstrate incompetence at the plate. Ahmed has always been exactly that type of guy. His career line features a .225 average and a .275 on-base percentage. This is along with a wRC+ of 64 and an ISO of .134. Nothing really inspiring there from an offensive standpoint.
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June might bring about a different story for the shortstop, however. Ahmed saw an uptick in production really across the board. He hit .256 and reached base at a .323 clip. His wRC+ was up at 102, and his ISO jumped up to .167, over 30 points higher than May. This was while not experiencing a ton of luck on the batted ball side, as he still went for a .288 BABIP. This is a surprising number, given how hard he hit the ball over the month.
In the month of June, Ahmed hit the ball hard over 50% of the time. It was a 50.7% mark to be exact. No middle infielder in baseball hit the ball harder during the month. Not Javier Baez and not Trevor Story. It didn’t work in his favor that he still hit 47% of balls on the ground, as he could’ve reached base even more with a bit of elevation. There was a positive trend in his approach at the plate, though, that led to those impressive results.
Ahmed swung at 66% of fastballs that he saw. That’s an increase of no less than 15% from any of the previous months of the year. Breaking pitches were down to their lowest swing rate of the year. It’s no secret that swinging at fastballs is a recipe for success. Ahmed’s strikeout rate dipped about seven percent, to only about 15%, from the previous months, as well. If this is a true trend in Ahmed’s approach, we could see much more of this higher-end performance as the season wears on.
At this point, nobody is really expecting Nick Ahmed to be much more than a glove-first guy. But if he can at least be adequate offensively, as he was just about average in June, he becomes tremendously valuable to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Maybe not valuable enough to forego a Manny Machado trade, but an important piece nonetheless.
We’ll have to continue watching his performance closely. Not only does it mean a lot to the Diamondbacks’ offensive in the near-term, but could certainly impact their activity on the trade market if Ahmed is ready to become a regular contributor on the offensive side.