Eric Hinske is becoming one of the most well-traveled players in baseball. On Tuesday, the Arizona Diamondbacks inked the veteran to a one-year contract to play in the desert. Hinske has bounced around teams over the last four to five years, but will now call Arizona his home for at least one season. Players that aren’t always in the spotlight tend to be categorized as “unimportant” and “washed-up”, but for Hinske, I believe he should be labeled as somewhat underrated. I’m am an actual proponent of the Eric Hinske signing. Yes, you heard me right!
Why would the Diamondbacks sign Eric Hinske? I feel the former American League rookie of the year (2002-Toronto) has been overlooked by baseball media over the years due to the fact that he hasn’t been the focal point of any team. Whether it was in Atlanta or Pittsburgh, Hinske has performed the role that has been asked of him. I’m not saying that Eric Hinske is a superstar in this league, but I certainly think that he is a player, that when his role is established, can perform.
Kevin Towers has mentioned that the D’Backs need a bat off the bench for late game situations. This role sounds like it was made for Hinske. Hinske can also play a part as a designated hitter during inter-league play when we are in New York, Tampa, Texas and Boston this year.
People on the opposite end of the “Hinske spectrum” will most likely bring up his less than stellar .236 BA over the last few seasons in Atlanta, but this is partially due to dramatically decreased plate appearances over the three year span. The point to be made is that, if Arizona gives Hinske a clearly defined role with this team, this year can be an effective one for the 35-year old. Don’t expect and excess amount of home runs off of the “Uptown” sign in right field, but do expect to see Hinske on base more often than not.
A major aspect that has been brushed over is the fact that Hinske is actually a fairly versatile defensive player. Initially, when starting his career, Hinske spent most his time at third base, but has transformed primarily into a first baseman who can also play both corner outfield spots. In nearly 2,100 innings for Hinske in the outfield, he has only committed three errors, which is remarkable.
I understand that Eric Hinske is no longer the player he was in the beginning of his career, but by statistics and just simply watching him play over the years, it can be concluded that the veteran is not as ineffective as people may deem him to be. Spring Training is going to be important for Hinske in becoming familiar with this team, coaching staff and truly grasping his role as a Diamondback.