Astros not devoid of fantasy talent after all

Updated: April 1, 2013, 11:34 AM ET
By Eric Karabell
The Houston Astros own baseball's best record -- OK, so it's a bit misleading! -- after Sunday's 8-2 opening night win over their in-state rival, the Texas Rangers, and while it's hardly a harbinger to make World Series plans, it's still fun to see unheralded players such as outfielder Justin Maxwell, who perhaps you've considered owning in a deep fantasy league, perform well. Maxwell certainly played a key role in the victory, delivering a two-run triple to get the scoring started in the fourth inning and then later walking and adding another three-base hit.

I've long been intrigued by Maxwell, now 29, since he clearly showed the tools to contribute in home runs and stolen bases while toiling in the minors for years in the Washington Nationals' organization. In 2007, he hit 27 home runs and stole 35 bases! As recently as 2011 for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in the New York Yankees' system, he hit 16 home runs and stole 11 bases in 48 games. The somewhat desperate Astros took a look at him last year and were rewarded with 18 home runs and nine steals in barely half a season of at-bats. He has signature flaws at the plate, but still I find it odd that people seem so pessimistic about Maxwell. After all, he's going to play, which is half the battle.