Hinch lived in Nashua, Iowa, until he was eight and moved to Oklahoma. He is a 1992 graduate of Midwest City (Oklahoma) High School, where, as a senior, he was the 1992 National Gatorade Player of the Year in baseball. He was drafted in the second round of the Major League Baseball draft but elected to attend Stanford University, where he was a third-round pick after his junior year in 1995. He decided to return to school and was again a third-round pick as a senior in 1996. While at Stanford he joined Delta Tau Delta International Fraternity. Hinch won a bronze medal for the United States at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and was named to the 1998 Topps All-Star Rookie Team.
In an eight-season career, Hinch was a .219 hitter with 32 home runs and 112 RBI in 350 games.
Hinch was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the second round of the 1992 Major League Baseball Draft, but he did not sign, opting to attend Stanford University to play for the Stanford Cardinal baseball team. He was drafted again by the Minnesota Twins in the third round of the 1995 Major League Baseball Draft, but he opted to remain at Stanford for his senior season.
Hinch was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the third round of the 1996 Major League Baseball Draft. He signed with the Athletics in June 1996. He debuted with the Athletics in 1998 and remained with the team through the 2000 season.
In the 2000–01 offseason, Hinch was traded to the Kansas City Royals with Ángel Berroa as part of a 3-team trade that sent Ben Grieve from the Athletics to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Cory Lidle from the Devil Rays to the Athletics, Roberto Hernández from the Devil Rays to the Royals, and Johnny Damon and Mark Ellis to the Athletics from the Royals.
Hinch was released by the Royals after the 2002 season. He signed as a minor league free agent with the Cleveland Indians, but was purchased by the Detroit Tigers from the Indians in March 2003. He signed with the Philadelphia Phillies for the 2004 season, splitting the year between the majors and Triple-A. He spent all of 2005 with the Phillies' Triple-A affiliate before retiring.
After the 2005 season, Hinch was hired by the Arizona Diamondbacks as their manager of minor league operations. Even while playing, he was planning his post-playing career. He went so far as to go to the 2003 general manager's winter meetings to look for future job opportunities and contacts. In July 2006, Baseball America named him one of baseball's "10 to watch" in the next 10 years for his promise as a farm director and future general manager. In August 2006, the Diamondbacks named Hinch director of player development.
Hinch was named manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 8, 2009, replacing Bob Melvin, even though he had never managed or coached a team at any level. Hinch, at age 34 years and 357 days, became the youngest person to be named manager of a Major League team since Eric Wedge (34 years, 275 days).
Hinch was fired from the Diamondbacks on July 1, 2010, following a 31–48 start to the 2010 season. Overall, Hinch compiled an 89–123 record in 212 games. His .420 winning percentage ranks as the second lowest in Diamondbacks history, just ahead of Al Pedrique.
Hinch was hired by the San Diego Padres as vice president of professional scouting on September 21, 2010.
He resigned from his position on August 5, 2014.
Hinch was named manager of the Houston Astros on September 29, 2014, replacing Bo Porter, who was fired on September 1, 2014. In the 2015 season, Hinch led the Astros to an 86–76 record and a wild card berth. It was Houston's first playoff appearance since 2005. In the Wild Card Game, the Astros defeated the New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium 3–0 to advance to the American League Division Series. In the ALDS, Hinch's Astros took a 2–1 series lead against the Kansas City Royals. The Astros led the Royals 6–2 in Game 4 going into the 8th inning before the Royals came back to win 9–6. The Astros would go on to lose the series.
In 2016, Houston began the season 7–17. Although the team's play improved during the course of the season, the Astros finished 84–78 and did not qualify for the playoffs.
For 2017, Hinch led the Astros to a club record of 50 wins in 74 games and is 91-58 as of September 17.As of games played on September 17, 2017