The Detroit Tigers today named A.J. Hinch as the 39th manager in franchise history, agreeing to terms on a multi-year contract. “I’d like to thank Chris Ilitch and Al Avila for giving me a chance and the opportunity to get back in the dugout to lead this historic ballclub,” said Hinch. “The last year was the most difficult of my life. It gave me time to reflect, which was such a big part of this process. Everything that has transpired over the past year, personally and professionally, has put so much in perspective for me, and re-enforced how important it is to do things with integrity and honesty.”
“My feelings towards baseball are the same that so many Detroiters have for this team. Through thick and thin you always care about it and rely on it to be there as a part of your life, and I’m so proud to play a role in growing that tradition here with the Tigers. Having a talented young core of players, dedicated leadership group and passionate fan base was exactly what I was looking for in a team, and it’s clear we have that here in Detroit. It’s time to start playing winning baseball, and I am confident this organization is positioned to make that happen.”
Over seven years as a Major League manager, Hinch has posted a combined 570-452 record, leading Arizona from 2009-10 and Houston from 2015-19. Under his leadership, the Astros reached the playoffs four times in five seasons, won a pair of American League Pennants and one World Series Championship. Houston made the playoffs in his first year as manager, snapping a nine-year playoff drought and rebounding from a 70-92 record the prior season. Hinch was out of baseball for all of 2020, serving a suspension from Major League Baseball.
Hinch also had a seven-year playing career, suiting up for 350 games between Oakland (1998-2000), Kansas City (2001-02), Detroit (2003) and Philadelphia (2004). Over the course of his career the catcher hit .219/.280/.356 with 28 doubles, 32 home runs and 112 RBI. During his lone season in Detroit, Hinch played for then-manager and current Special Assistant to the General Manager, Alan Trammell, batting .203 (15×74) with three homers and 11 RBI over 27 games.
Between his managerial posts in Arizona and Houston, Hinch worked in San Diego’s front office serving as the Vice President of Scouting and Assistant General Manager from 2011-14. In that role he oversaw all aspects of the club’s professional scouting and medical departments, while assisting with the club’s roster composition, player acquisitions, talent evaluations and contract negotiations. Following his retirement as a player in 2005, Hinch joined the Diamondbacks front office and was eventually named the club’s Director of Player Development, a position he held until being named manager in 2009.
“Coming into this managerial search we already knew that A.J.’s diverse baseball acumen, knowledge of analytics and passion for the game were second to none,” said Al Avila, Detroit Tigers Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager. “However, we also knew there were some important conversations to have about A.J.’s time in Houston. Throughout that dialogue he was clearly remorseful and used that time to reflect on the situation, and we believe he will emerge as a better leader because of it. This ballclub is entering an extremely exciting period, with young players primed and ready to make an impact at the Major League level. I’m confident A.J. is the best man for this job as we strive to bring a World Series Championship back to the city of Detroit.”
“On behalf of all of us with the Tigers, I’d like to welcome A.J. and his family back to the Detroit community,” said Christopher Ilitch, Detroit Tigers Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Throughout the interview process it was clear that A.J. had learned from his situation in recent months, and it has changed him in profound ways. Quite frankly, it’s exactly what we wanted and needed to hear. A.J. provides a wealth of knowledge and experience, and we’re proud to have him lead our team. Additionally, I’d like to commend Al Avila and his staff on conducting a thorough and professional search process and know that they landed on the right person to be our manager. Tigers fans have high expectations for their baseball team, and all of us in the organization are confident that today’s announcement is a big step towards returning to the on-field success they deserve.”
Hinch, 46, is a native of Midwest City, OK, and was a collegiate standout at Stanford University. Established as one of the best catchers in the country, Hinch was a three-time All-American and All-Pac10 team selection, and two-time Pac10 Player of the Year. He led the Cardinal to the College World Series in 1996 and finished the season as a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award. During his time in Palo Alto, Hinch earned his Bachelor of Science in psychology in 1996 and was a member of the 1996 bronze medal-winning U.S. Olympic Baseball Team. He was drafted three times as an amateur, eventually signing with Oakland after being selected in the third round of the 1996 MLB Draft. A.J. and his wife, Erin, make their residence in The Woodlands, TX, with their daughters Haley and Kaitlin.