There were some initial critics of MLB’s decision to allow Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to compete in the Home Run Derby at MLB All-Star week in Cleveland last month. Those critics were quickly silenced by the show that the 20-year-old put on at Progressive Field.
The Toronto Blue Jays slugger ultimately lost to New York Mets rookie slugger Pete Alonso in the final round of the Home Run Derby, but history will remember him as putting up one of the most iconic performances the event has ever seen. Guerrero hit 91 total home runs, including 40 in the semifinals, where he edged out Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Joc Pederson in triple overtime.
Guerrero, who entered the season as the No. 1 overall ranked prospect in the sport, did have just eight home runs in 225 at-bats prior to the All-Star Break. But since his impressive showing at the Home Run Derby, Guerrero hasn’t cooled off.
Since the All-Star Break, Guerrero is slashing .324/.385/.592 with five home runs, 22 RBIs and a .976 OPS. In his last five games, Guerrero has 16 RBIs, which the Elias Sports Bureau says makes him the youngest player in the history of baseball with 16 or more RBIs over the course of five games.
Thursday night, the Blue Jays played the 36-71 Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. Guerrero made quick work of the lowly Orioles, going 3-5 with two home runs an RBI double. The two home runs weren’t cheap ones, as they went a combined 855 feet.
MLB Stats says that Guerrero became the third youngest player in American League history with 10 or more total bases in a game Thursday night.
Guerrero’s father, of course, began his career north of the border with the Montreal Expos, won an American League MVP with the Los Angeles Angels in 2004 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018. He’s also one of the more universally liked players in the history of the sport, which made people naturally inclined to like his son.
Well, it took Guerrero half a season to heat up, but it appears that one of the more touted power-hitting prospects in the last 20 years has truly arrived. And while the Blue Jays sold off All-Star RHP Marcus Stroman before the trade deadline, Guerrero may make the Blue Jays a must-watch team in the second-half of the 2019 season.