Eric Scott Hinske (born August 5, 1977, in Menasha, Wisconsin) is a Major League Baseball player for the Tampa Bay Rays. Prior to joining the Rays, Hinske spent time at the Major League level with the Toronto Blue Jays, and more recently the Boston Red Sox, playing third base, first base, and right field. He is listed at 6' 2, 235 pounds.
On December 7, 2001, Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi acquired Hinske and reliever Justin Miller from the Athletics for Billy Koch, a move designed to bring youth and vitality to the team. Hinske was inserted in the everyday line-up in 2002, playing third base, and was a key contributor for the team, hitting predominantly in the number two spot in the line-up. While criticized early for his sometimes shoddy defense, Hinske made up for his lapses with his bat, hitting 24 home runs, knocking in 84 runs, and scoring 99 runs. He also led all AL third basemen in errors, with 22. He received wide recognition, winning both the MLB Rookie of the Year and The Sporting News Rookie of the Year awards.
Following Hinske's successful 2002 campaign, Ricciardi signed him to a 5-year, $14,750,000 contract in March 2003. This new contract given to Hinske proved to be a mistake, as Hinske never came close to repeating the success he had in 2002, his rookie season. Hinske slumped through the early part of the 2003 season before disclosing that he had a broken bone in his right hand. After returning from the disabled list, he was unable to match his numbers of the previous year, batting just .243 with 12 home runs and 63 RBIs, although he did finish fifth in the American League with 45 doubles. He had the lowest fielding percentage of all third basemen in the league, .930, as well as the lowest range factor (2.48).
Hinske was still unable to return to his rookie form in 2004, finishing the yearwith a batting average of .248 with 15 home runs and 69 RBIs. A positive from the 2004 season for Hinske was that he had committed a career-low 7 errors at third base, and he led all third baseman in fielding percentage, albeit with a slightly below average range factor.
After the 2004 season, the Blue Jays acquired Corey Koskie and Shea Hillenbrand, both third basemen, and Hinske was moved to first base for the 2005 season. He started off strong in 2005 with two home runs and 13 RBIs in his first eight games. Hinske finished April with four home runs and 17 RBIs, with a respectable .289 average and a .482 slugging percentage. Hinske finished the 2005 season with a .262 average, 15 home runs and 68 RBI, and a .430 slugging percentage.
With the acquisitions of Lyle Overbay and Troy Glaus by Toronto in the 2005 offseason, there was little room for Hinske as a corner infielder, and he was shifted once more to right field in a platoon with Alex Rios for the 2006 season. Rios won the job after having a solid April.Though Hinske's primary position in 2006 was right field, he had also seen some spot duty at his familiar first base and third base positions due to either injuries suffered by his teammates during the game or for pinch-hitting purposes.
On June 27, 2006, Rios was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a staph infection suffered after fouling a ball off his leg thereby clearing the way for Hinske to see regular game action. In addition to Rios' injury, Hillenbrand's stormy departure from the team in July provided even more opportunity for increased playing time.
Hinske is also quoted in a July 25, 2006 column on the Blue Jays' official website, criticizing the departed Hillenbrand, who was designated for assignment for, among other things, complaining about his lack of playing time:
"I just took the approach of trying to be professional, check your ego at the door every day," said Hinske, who had been a regular most of his career but was now platooning in the outfield. "I think we all saw that with Shea Hillenbrand. It can counterproductive to be vocal and not be a so-called 'team' guy."
On August 17, 2006, Hinske was traded to the Boston Red Sox for a minor league player to be named later and cash. His versatility helped the Red Sox, since they were greatly plagued by injuries in the second half of the season. He ended the season with a 10-game hitting streak. On May 17, 2007, Hinske had what could be his career highlight. In the 5th inning of a game against the Tigers, a ball was hit to right field (where Hinske was playing,) and it appeared that the ball was out of reach. But he did a full body dive, and caught the ball, while also smacking his face into the ground from the impact after making the catch. According to Red Sox color analyst, Jerry Remy, "Gosh, that's one of the best catches you'll see all season long (2007 season.) I didn't think he was gonna get to this."  Later, in the bottom of the 7th inning, he would hit a home run into the Red Sox bullpen. 
On February 6, 2008, Hinske signed a minor league contract with an invite to spring training with the Tampa Bay Rays. He was added to the 40-man major league roster on March 29, and was the Rays opening-day right-fielder. In his Rays debut, Hinske homered to right field off of Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie.
Hinske was raised in Menasha, Wisconsin. there he attended Menasha highschool and played baseball for the Menasha Blue Jays. Hinske is married to Kathryn. They have a daughter Ava who was born August 2007.
- As a Blue Jay, Hinske's theme music when he stepped up to the plate in 2006 was "The Shortest Straw" by Metallica. In 2005, his theme was "Duality" by Slipknot. In 2004, His theme song was "Walk" by Pantera.
- ↑ mlb trade article
- ↑ Redsox.mlb.com article
- ↑ Hinske home run at MLB.com
- ↑ Eric Hinske. ESPN.com (2007-02-24). Retrieved on 2007-02-24.
- Eric Hinske's career statistics at Baseball-Reference.com
- ESPN - profile and daily updates
- MLB.com - profile and daily updates
|American League Rookie of the Year|
|Baseball America Rookie of the Year|
| Players Choice AL Most Outstanding Rookie|
|Topps Rookie All-Star Third Baseman|