The Runner Sports

“Slim” Comin’ Up Phat For Astros: Cameron Maybin From Out Of Nowhere

He came close to stealing the spotlight from the newly-acquired Justin Verlander, who made his first start for the Houston Astros, Tuesday, September 5 in Seattle. Cameron Maybin cracked a two-run homer in the 7th inning, breaking a tie, and providing the eventual winning margin in Houston’s 3-1 win.

Verlander, obtained for three prospects at the August 31 revocable waiver deadline, pitched 6 innings of 6-hit ball, earning his 11th win of the season.

Not content with doing it once, Maybin broke a tie, again, with the winning 2-run dinger in the 9th, to send the Astros to their 7th straight win, 5-3, Wednesday, September 6. That was Maybin’s 3rd home run for Houston in only his sixth game with the team.

While he’s not expected to go deep on a regular basis, the speedster nicknamed “Slim” was plucked off the waiver wire from the Angels, August 31, to add outfield depth, quality at-bats from the right side, and speed to the Astros’ September stretch run and beyond.

Ironically enough, Maybin’s calling card has long been his speed, not his power, as he’s never eclipsed 10 homers for a full season. Through games of September 7, Maybin trails new teammate Jose Altuve for the American League lead in stolen bases by one, with 30. But, the Astros’ 2017 has proven to be a season rife with anomalies, contradictions, conundrums, and ironies. They’ve room for one more, especially if it adds to the win column.

Slim Pickin’s

Born in Asheville, NC on April 4, 1987, Maybin picked up the “Slim” nickname as a kid, even though he really should be “Little Slim.” The 6’3″, 215-pound Maybin’s father was nicknamed “Slim” by his friends due to his laid-back personality. Those same friends christened Cameron “Slim” early on. Teammates on Maybin’s previous teams have followed suit, and while it’s too soon to report on the Astros warming to it, a couple more bombs might actually lead George Springer and company to dub him “Slam.”

His then-San Diego Padres teammate, catcher Nick Hundley (currently with the Giants, and saddled with the nickname, “Hundo”), said of Maybin and his nickname back in 2012: “He looks the part — watch him run around in the outfield and how smooth and effortless he is,” Hundley said. “I’ve played with him since he was 18 when we played together for the first time. He’s grown up a little bit, but he’s still got that stature.”

Maybin attended T.C. Roberson High School in Asheville, and led the Rams to the state title as a freshman, earning tourney MVP in the process.

Side-stepping college, Maybin was drafted #10 overall by the Detroit Tigers in 2005, and spent two years in their lower minors, before making his MLB debut in August 2007 against the New York Yankees. But, not before participating in the All-Star Futures Game in 2006, following a Class-A season where he hit .304, with 9 homers and 27 stolen bases.

In Maybin’s second game with the Tigers, he got his first major league hit (a single), and his first major league home run, both against the Yankees’ Roger Clemens, fresh off his three-year Astro stint, and just weeks before “The Rocket” hung up his cleats for good. Clemens, though, made sure Maybin had a proper MLB “baptism” by plunking him with a Rocket missile in the at-bat following his homer.

Slim Slammin’ Away

Thankfully, “Slim” didn’t learn his lesson to avoid slamming homers off fastballers: Maybin’s game-winner, Wednesday, against the Mariners was hit off a 100-mile-an-hour screamer from Seattle closer Edwin Diaz, which the Astro sent off the right-field foul pole. That was Maybin’s 9th homer, overall, for 2017.

Apparently, Maybin’s opposite field shot was a bit of a big deal: Diaz’ triple-digit fastball was the third-fastest pitch hit for a home run in MLB this year, and the fastest pitch to be hit for a homer against the Mariners since pitch tracking began in 2008.

“He’s been a nice spark for us on a lot of levels,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said after the win, dangerously approaching understatement. “He’s come in with some energy, he’s come in with a ton of enthusiasm. He’s a good player. We knew everybody would like him. He’s obviously performing at a high level and earning more at-bats. Big swing tonight.”

Donning his humble hat back in the locker room, Maybin explained, “Just trying to look for something I can hit the other way, and I did. Luckily it found the opposite side of the yellow, man. It was a big hit and we needed it. I was fortunate enough to get it.”

The Astros appear to be fortunate in landing the 30-year-old journeyman who has toiled in relative anonymity for five previous teams. The heavily-salaried Verlander notwithstanding, Maybin is the quintessential Astro get: Unheralded and lightly-paid underachiever finds a home with a team eager to encourage full use of all talents without the pressure of carrying the team.

In 2017, Maybin is awash in a sea of talented players, and has quickly and easily found a home in the clubhouse, as well as in Houston’s lineup, contributing in ways even he may find surprising. And, the chances Cameron Maybin will be left off the Astros’ postseason roster?

I’d say slim to none.


The Maybin Mission: Even before being claimed by the Astros, Maybin had set in motion an effort to raise money for the Gulf coast’s hurricane relief fund, through his online charity, The Maybin Mission.


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Brad Kyle

Brad Kyle

Brad Ramone with (L-R) Dee Dee, Johnny, and Joey Ramone, backstage at Houston's Liberty Hall, July, 1977.

Johnny, the Ramones' influential guitarist, who passed away in 2004 at 55, was an avid baseball and New York Yankees fan since childhood. He even once ranked baseball above rock'n'roll in a personal Top 10 List!

Like Johnny, my love for rock is only equaled by my love for baseball and my hometown Houston Astros, present and past!

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Brad Kyle