Eric Hinske (born August 5, 1977 in Menasha, Wisconsin) is a Major League Baseball player. He has played his entire major league career with the Toronto Blue Jays, playing third base, first base and right field.
After attending the University of Arkansas, he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 17th round of the 1998 amateur draft. Hinske was traded to the Oakland Athletics for Miguel Cairo just prior to the 2001 season. Hinske had a successful 2001 at third base with Oakland's AAA team, the Sacramento River Cats, hitting .282, with 25 HR and 79 RBI in 121 games.
On December 7, 2001, Blue Jay 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 every day 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 received wide recognition, winning both the MLB Rookie of the Year and The Sporting News Rookie of the Year awards.
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. Hinske was still unable to return to his rookie form in 2004 with a batting average of .248 with 15 home runs and 69 RBIs.
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.
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. Shortly afterwards, Rios won the starting job at right field, leaving Hinske as his backup. Though Hinske's default position in 2006 is right field, he has 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.