What Should The D’Backs Do With Nick Ahmed?

Apr 18, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Nick Ahmed (13) is unable to make a throw in time on an infield single against the San Francisco Giants in the eighth inning at AT&T Park. The Giants defeated the Diamondbacks 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest surprises before the start of the season for the Arizona Diamondbacks was when manager Chip Hale announced that Nick Ahmed will be the team’s starting shortstop.

Heading into the closing days of spring training, it was expected that Aaron Hill was going to start at second base with Chris Owings manning short. Instead, Owings moved over to second base, Ahmed was named the starter at shortstop and Hill was a bench bat for the first time in his career.

Through the first three weeks of the season, we have learned a couple of things, which aren’t too surprising. Ahmed has a great glove, but he really struggles with his bat.

In four years in the minor leagues, Ahmed showed flashes of how good his glove was going to be. It was especially apparent after he moved over to the Diamondbacks organization as part of the Justin Upton trade.

Ahmed never really showed much promise with his bat until Reno last season. In 407 at-bats, the 25-year-old hit .312 with a .373 on-base percentage.

That .312 batting average at Reno hasn’t translated to the big league level yet. Through 171 major league at-bats over the part of two seasons, Ahmed is hitting well below the Mendoza line with a .171 batting average.

This season has really been a struggle for Ahmed.

The Connecticut has only six hits in a total of 47 at-bats with 16 strikeouts. Yes, you read that right, 16 K’s in not even 50 at-bats yet.

Usually you are a fine with a guy striking out a lot as long as they hit for power and produce runs. Paul Goldschmidt strikes out at a high rate, but Ahmed provides neither the power nor the run production that Goldy provides on a game-by-game basis.

Luckily for Ahmed, it’s still very early in the season and there’s no way he continue hitting at a .128 clip. He needs to get his bat going soon here though or Hale is going to have a decision to make.

If Ahmed continues to struggle hitting, Hale does have some options to pick from.

Hale can move Owings back over to shortstop and give Hill his starting position back at second base. Hill hasn’t exactly hit the cover off the ball either with only seven hits in 43 at-bats himself as a spot starter.

The D’Backs manager could also leave Owings at second and play Cliff Pennington at shortstop. That’s what Hale did last night and Pennington rewarded him with getting on base in three of his four plate appearances.

Hopefully it won’t have to come to that and Ahmed will eventually get out of this funk he’s in. Historically, you want defense first when it comes to your shortstop but you also can’t throw him out there every day if he’s going to hit at a very poor clip like Ahmed has done so far this season.