Friday, February 20, 2009

Player Profile 4: Eric Hinske

We now move onto our fourth Pirate Pre-season Preview Player Profile, and today we will look at one of the Pirates’ numerous highly celebrated (just kidding) off-season acquisitions, Mr. Eric Hinske. If you want to take a look at the previous editions of the Quintuple P, click here. I also have previously posted about Hinske's chances of being the Opening Day Left Fielder and his competition, so check that out, too.
Player: Eric Hinske
Position: 1B/3B/LF/RF
Hinske will take over the role occupied last season by the almost unbelievably popular Dirty Doug Mientkiewicz. I doubt Hinske will match Dirty Doug’s popularity, and it’s probably 50/50 whether or not he’ll match his overall productivity at the plate, either. What Hinske does provide though is a power stroke that just might be the second best on the entire roster behind Ryan Doumit (sad, I know). I hope Adam LaRoche and maybe even Brandon Moss prove me wrong, but until LaRoche stops doing his impersonation of a corpse for the first 2 months of the season and Moss shows he can hit off that gimpy knee, I stand by my statement about Hinske. The drawback for him, though, is that he has had some issues with keeping even a mediocre batting average and strikes out a fair amount.

Because of the Pirates’ expected commitment to giving young Andy LaRoche plenty of chances at third base, Hinske’s primary position, and big brother Adam LaRoche’s mostly entrenched status at first base, Hinske’s secondary position, it figures if Eric is going to see playing time it will be mostly in the outfield. Left Field figures to be without question the top spot for him to get some at-bats and some starts. The opening day slot for this position is still open, and I feel that Hinske is the guy who SHOULD win the job given his credentials and his positives compared to Nyjer Morgan, his main competitor. I'm skeptical as to how that will actually play out, though. Hinske’s chances to roam left field this season, especially later in the season, will also be at least partially determined by how young Andrew McCutchen fares in AAA Indianapolis. Despite the status of the brothers LaRoche, I think Hinske definitely sees some at-bats at those spots, too, and those numbers could pile up if either experiences their trademark inconsistencies. The status of Brandon Moss’ surgically repaired knee will be worth keeping an eye on and I won’t be surprised to see him need some days off when the Pirates play several days in a row or day games after night games.

Predicted 2009 Stats: 325 AB .255 AB 14 HR .340 OBP .433 SLG 47 RBI 51 R 7 SB
Assuming Full Health, Chance of Being on the Opening Day Roster: 100%
Assuming Full Health, Chance of Being in the Opening Day Lineup: 45%
On Deck: Zach Duke

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