This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
ESPN reported last night that free agent utility player Eric Hinske signed with the Atlanta Braves. The move gives the Braves a lot of flexibility as Hinske will provide backup to Troy Glaus at first and Chipper Jones at third. In addition to that, Hinske can fill in at the corner outfield spots when needed. More importantly though, signing Eric Hinske gives the Atlanta Braves a shot at reaching the postseason and the World Series.
Wait, what? That’s right. The Eric Hinske Effect moves to Atlanta.
The Eric Hinske Effect used to be known as the Kenny Lofton Effect, and may be similar to the Orlando Cabrera Effect or perhaps a baseball fan from the 1980’s and early 1990’s called it the Lonnie Smith Effect. In short, the effect of these players on their teams generally means they reach the playoffs. In the cases of Lonnie Smith and Eric Hinske, this means their team makes it to the World Series. In the cases of Hinske, Cabrera and Lofton it means their team makes the postseason every season, even if the player moves on to another team.
Kenny Lofton reached the postseason in four straight seasons with different teams, and between 1995 and 2007 missed just two postseasons! Orlando Cabrera has reached the postseason with three different teams in the last three seasons, and overall has reached the postseason in five of the last six seasons since his 2004 trade to the Boston Red Sox. Lonnie Smith is slightly different than the other players, as he spent a few seasons with each of the teams he played on.
Hinske first reached the World Series with the Red Sox in 2007, and then moved on to the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 during their Worst To First run for a world title. He started the 2009 season with the Pittsburgh Pirates before the Yankees acquired him in June as they bolstered their bench while in search of a 27th World Championship title. He has the opportunity to do what only Lonnie Smith has done before him, in the style of which Kenny Lofton and Orlando Cabrera would be envious:
Reach the World Series in four straight seasons with four different teams and win it all with at least three of them.
Obviously Eric Hinske is not really going to be the sole reason the Atlanta Braves find a way back to the Fall Classic for the first time since 1999. He may even end up being traded to a contender by the July deadine. However, his versatility and previous postseason experience will certainly be useful on a team like the Atlanta Braves in 2010.