Spring 2021 Magazine

Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed seeks rest in Christ as he earns second straight Gold Glove

Major League Baseball announced the 2019 Gold Glove Award winners earlier this week, and Arizona Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed was voted the best at his position in the National League.

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It is Ahmed’s second consecutive Gold Glove, as he also won the award in 2018. He is considered by many to be one of the best defenders in baseball. Ahmed led all MLB shortstops with 18 defensive runs saved in 2019, and for the past two seasons he has led all NL position players in defensive wins above replacement.

“It was a pretty special honor for me being a shortstop and a guy who really loves and appreciates defense,” Ahmed said on the Sports Spectrum Podcast in May 2019 about last season’s honor. “It’s something that I’ve kind of worked for and wanted to achieve for a really long time.”

Yet, Ahmed’s abilities aren’t limited to his defense. He also posted career-highs in 2019 in many offensive categories, including hits (141), home runs (19), RBIs (82) and batting average (.254).

Despite Ahmed’s production, the Diamondbacks weren’t able to find their way into the playoffs. They finished the season 85-77, second in the NL West and four games behind the Brewers for the final wild-card spot.

Ahmed, 29, grew up in East Longmeadow, Mass., and attended the University of Connecticut. The Atlanta Braves selected him in the second round of the 2011 MLB Draft, and after the 2012 season, he was traded to Arizona. His debut came with the Diamondbacks in 2014 and by 2015, he was their starting shortstop.

Finding God on the diamond

Another Gold Glove only adds to Ahmed’s growing list of achievements. But as he explained on the podcast, it was during a trying time in his life while standing on a baseball field that God helped him to see that Christianity isn’t about checking boxes and finding value in performance. It’s about having a relationship with Jesus and accepting all that He’s done.

“It was the middle of a game, between the fourth and fifth inning, on an extremely humid and muggy night in Mobile (Alabama). I just walked out to shortstop, jogged out there, and instead of taking the normal two or three ground balls to warm up between innings, I just kind of turned around, faced the outfield, closed my eyes and prayed,” Ahmed said. “At that point I was like, ‘OK God, I’ve been doing life all by myself for the last 23 years. I need You to come save me and start teaching me how to do life with You.’ And I gave my life to Christ.”

The Holy Spirit gradually began to work on Ahmed.

“It started to change how I thought, how I live, and God started to give me new desires,” Ahmed said. “It was a long process and it still is, obviously, but it was the best decision I’ve ever made.”

One of Ahmed’s greatest struggles is to find his worth in Christ and not in his achievements. Such a performance-driven profession like baseball only heightens his need to succeed, but by God’s grace, Ahmed has begun to see the Holy Spirit change his heart.

“I have more perspective to not ride that roller coaster of highs and lows too much,” Ahmed said, “but just be a little bit more steady and let my joy come from Jesus and not the circumstances around me.”

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