Remember when people worried that Anthony Rizzo might be be merely a platoon hitter because he posted a woeful .282 wOBA against southpaws? It’s hard to believe now, but back in 2013 — Rizzo’s first full season in Chicago — he had all kinds of holes. His career would be forever changed when Eric Hinske made a simple, yet transformational, suggestion in 2014.
“I told him if you crowd the plate, and get right on top of the plate against lefties, you’ll get hit more, which he does,” Hinske told Cubs beat writer Carrie Muskat in 2015. “But it intimidates [pitchers] to the point where they feel they can’t get in there on you because you’re all over the dish, and he’s a big dude.”
Since Rizzo began heeding Hinske’s advice, he’s never had a season below a .360 wOBA against lefty pitchers. Rizzo and Hinske’s relationship will have to continue outside the organization, though, as the Angels just signed the former Cubs coach to be their main hitting coach.
#Angels hire Eric Hinske as hitting coach. He's perhaps most famous for making World Series in 3 straight years in 3 different teams.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) October 23, 2017
Hinske’s tenure with the Cubs lasted four years, starting when he hired to be a part of Ricky Renteria’s staff as bench coach. When Maddon was hired, however, he was reassigned as assistant hitting coach under John Malle’s umbrella. The fact he was retained under Maddon speaks volume to his value.
Even if you didn’t necessarily know his name, you certainly would recognize the burly coach passing out bearhugs and getting in on all the celebratory action. Hinske will be certainly be missed by Cubs players and fans alike.