3B Eric Hinske
Perhaps one of the most disappointing former Jays’ players following an unforgettable start to his MLB career was none other than third baseman Eric Hinske. He was acquired from the Oakland Athletics along with pitcher Justin Miller in exchange for flamethrowing closer Billy Koch during the 2001-2002 offseason. With limited options within the Jays’ organization at the time with the likes of Felipe López and company, Hinske became the Jays’ starting third baseman right from the get-go in the 2002 MLB season.
Boy, did that decision make management look like a genius as Hinske went on to have one of the best Jays’ rookie seasons ever at the time. Over 151 games played, he batted .279 with an .845 OPS, coming one run short of the century mark in runs scored, along with 38 doubles, 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 77 walks, 13 stolen bases and 272 total bases. For his exceptional accomplishments, he ended up capturing AL Rookie of the Year honours and appeared to have a bright future ahead of him.
But who would have thought that was already his peak performance of his career, as Hinske failed to replicate his outstanding numbers from his debut season in the majors. Never was he able to score more than 79 runs, hit more than 20 home runs, drive in more than 69 runs, walk more than 59 times, or accumulate more than 214 total bases in the rest of his 12-year MLB career. For someone that appeared to be en route to becoming the Jays’ best ever third baseman to have ever played, it was why he turned out to be a much more major disappointment than it would have been due to the high expectations of him. Nevertheless, at least the Jays did end up getting their hands on one of the best third baseman in all of baseball, but just over a decade later.