Maxwell to get shot at starting job in outfield

Maxwell to get shot at starting job in outfield
January 26, 2013, 9:00 am
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It’s not often that a player comes in and immediately lives up to his billing. But when Astros General Manager Jeff Luhnow acquired outfielder Justin Maxwell the first thing he mentioned was his ability to hit for power.

In Maxwell’s first at bat against as an Astro, the right handed hitter gave Astros fans a good dose of it with a towering pinch hit home run against the Braves.

From that point on Maxwell flexed his power, blasting a 480 foot home run in Colorado and hitting the club level at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, but struggled to find consistency at the plate. The outfielder didn’t hit more than .240 in any month and finished with a .229 average and .304 OBP.

Still it’s the promise of power and the hope of improvement at the plate, along with a solid defensive play in the outfield, that gives him an inside track at a starting job in 2013.

“Justin has a couple of key assets, one is the fact that he can play all three outfield positions,” Luhnow said Friday. “And he’s got tremendous right handed power and that’s what we need.”

Maxwell led the Astros in home runs in 2012, hitting 18 in just 315 at bats. If he can get the average up some, the team can’t wait to see what damage he can do if he gets a season of starters at bats.

“He showed it to us last year. If you take his numbers and extrapolate it over the course of a season he’s going to be a very productive outfielder,” Luhnow said.

“I think what he did last year is establish himself as a guy who deserves a chance to be an everyday player. So he’s certainly going to get every opportunity to be an everyday guy.”