Let's just say for a second that your Eric Hinske. Your entire career has been a disappointment, you have had one good season (Rookie of the Year) followed by a bunch of crappy ones. Yes you won a championship with the Red Sox last season, but you played no bigger role than I did in winning that championship. So this offseason, you look around for an opportunity to revive your career and get lots of playing time. Who comes along...the Tampa Rays! What an opportunity!
So you sign with the Rays, hoping and praying to the higher powers that playing time will come your way. And what do ya know, with Rocco Baldelli hurt, guess who starts in right field: Eric Hinske. And guess what, you seize the moment! A .406 batting average to go with 5 homers seals your fate as the starting right fielder! Wooohooo! And to top it all off, your play isn't half bad. Fourteen homers by the all star break help propel the Rays to the top of the AL East and into the hearts of mainstream media.
Unfortunately for Hinske, the decline began shortly after the break. Hinske hit only six more homers down the stretch to go along with a .235 average in August and a .218 average in September. Even with Hinske's struggles, the Rays entered the playoffs with the second best record in the AL and Eric Hinske's career was finally revived right?
Wrong. Even though he hit 20 homers during the regular season, the Rays decided not to include Hinske on the ALCS roster. Say whatttttt? Hinske was the team's right fielder for the majority of the year and played a vital role in the resurgence of the Rays. So what happened?
First of all, Hinske can't hit lefties at all. He only hit .143 against lefties all season to go along with one homer. Thos numbers are simply putrid. Secondly, the younger guys on the Rays stepped up and made Hinske expendable. Between Ben Zobrist, Gabe Gross, and Fernando Perez the Rays feel like they have three guys who can perform better than Hinske right now. Just take a look at their September stats:
Zobrist: .321, 5 HR, 12 RBI
Gross: .240, 2 HR, 6 RBI
Perez: .250, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 5 SB
The addition of Perez really has to hurt Hinske simply because Perez only has 60 ABs and only joined the Rays in September. The Rays obviously value his speed and defensive ability highly. Furthermore, the addition of David Price hurt Hinske's chances of making the roster because like Perez, Price was added to the roster in September and obviously is a supremely talented. He could be a major difference maker during the playoffs. He's that good.
So for Eric Hinske, lets just hope that he enjoys being a cheerleader. Maybe he'll even appear in the dugout in a dress, who knows? Did the 2008 season revitalize his career? I say no.
Either way, Mr. Hinske, I feel for you, this is a tough break.
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