Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had a rather underwhelming first half of his rookie season, or at least when you consider all of the hype as baseball’s consensus top prospect. With that hype comes very unfair pressure for someone that just turned 20 years old in March. Guerrero was a decent, not great hitter in 253 first-half plate appearances, with a .248/.328/.413 slash line, eight homers, and a 98 wRC+ (still, for a 20-year-old in the major leagues, that’s very impressive production!).

Then the Home Run Derby came along, and Guerrero showed any doubters why baseball evaluators drool over his potential.

Maybe that Derby performance got Guerrero’s confidence going, but it’s also as likely that an extremely gifted hitter just started to make adjustments to big-league pitching in the second half.

Guerrero blasted two homers in Toronto’s 11-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night, and the second dinger really showed off his bat speed and otherworldly power.

Over his last five games, Vladito has four homers and 16 runs batted in. He’s the youngest player to drive in 16 runs over five games in MLB history.

All of a sudden, Guerrero has very good numbers offensively on the season, with a .267/.341/.456, 13 homers, a 10.0% walk rate, a 17.5% strikeout rate, and a 112 wRC+.

In the second half, Vladito has a monster .324/.385/.592 slash line (.976 OPS) in 71 plate appearances. He has nine extra-base hits, seven walks, and only 11 strikeouts in the second half. He’s crushing the ball, taking his walks, and making contact at an above average rate (77.5% contact rate on the season; MLB average is 76.3%).

It took a few months, but we’re now seeing why Guerrero entered 2019 as baseball’s top prospect. Now, there will likely be some more growing pains as there are with any young hitter, and AL teams are surely obsessed with trying to find his holes.

But expect Guerrero to continue adjusting back. He’s a tremendously special hitting talent, and an insanely advanced one for his age. There’s no reason to think he won’t be one of the best hitters in baseball for a long, long time.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at mclapp@thecomeback.com.