Nothing pumps up baseball fans more than an epic catch. It could be a diving catch, one over the shoulder or one on the run that is just plain awesome.
I mean, come on; how many people here aren't impressed by Willie Mays' famous catch in the 1954 World Series (pictured).
Still, there is one type of catch I have yet to mention. I'm talking about some acrobatic catches that make the fans go, "Did you see that????"
In case you're still wondering, I'm talking about home run-robbing catches.
Here are the 20 best home run robberies in baseball history.
Curtis Granderson is one of those players who, as a whole, is just a great athlete. When it comes to playing defense, the man is certainly no slouch.
This particular catch he made while playing with the Detroit Tigers robbed Cleveland Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore of a home run.
It isn't a fancy catch, but sometimes less is more. Thus, it is the perfect one to kick off the countdown.
Though some fans may know him now for his rapid decline, there was a time when Andruw Jones was easily the best centerfielder in the game.
How good was he? Well, how about 10 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1997-2007?
Check out this clip from his glory days, when he took a home run away from Shawn Green. It's not fancy, but still a showcase of great athleticism.
In a game that featured his then-team, the Milwaukee Brewers, against the San Francisco Giants, Mike Cameron flashed the leather in such a way that the fans were not used to seeing from him.
With Nate Schierholtz at the plate, Cameron followed the hitter's drive to centerfield and just reached over the wall to pull it down.
It wasn't fancy, but the swagger with which Cameron handled it was epic. He made the catch and then just trotted in from the outfield as if to say, "No biggie."
Footage of the catch may be seen here.
For most of his career, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino has been known as "The Flyin' Hawaiian."
After watching this catch, I can see why.
Once again, not the fanciest of catches, but the execution is just perfect.
Just when you thought you had enough reasons to think that reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun was awesome, here I have found another one. Not only does he rob San Francisco Giants outfielder Cody Ross of a home run in this clip, but he gloats about it afterward.
Braun climbs the wall to make the catch, does a little 360 spin in the process, then flips the ball to himself before throwing it back to the infield and strutting around the outfield with a smile.
Even better, he did this in front of a crowd at AT&T Park, home of the Giants.
Watch the video to your left and see simple poetry in motion.
Though the ball in the picture to the left may have escaped him, Seattle Mariners outfielder Franklin Gutierrez has become a whiz at home run robbery. The catch of his that I've chosen to showcase occurred during the 2010 season against the Los Angeles Angels.
In the at-bat, second baseman Howie Kendrick launched a drive to centerfield that Gutierrez just tracked down perfectly. He ran to the wall, did a little bunny hop so his arm could get over the fence and pulled the ball in with ease.
Footage of this catch can be found here.
In his prime, besides being a great fielder, Andruw Jones was also a fine power hitter who could be counted on for 25-30 home runs a year. In this particular case, Jones thought he had a grand slam in the bag.
That is, of course, until outfielder Juan Pierre spoiled the party with a great catch.
If the Seattle Mariners want to start contending again, Trayvon Robinson may be the key to future success. The kid has it all in speed, ability to hit and also plays great defense.
This catch occurred against the always-pesky Los Angeles Angels, whose short porches in left field provide some great home runs but also just ask for home run robbery.
Watch Robinson make the catch and almost topple into the stands in the process.
Though his best days may be behind him, fans can still reminisce about the days before Carlos Beltran's knees went to the dogs and the man was still a defensive force in the outfield.
This particular catch occurred at Shea Stadium against the St. Louis Cardinals. Outfielder Ryan Ludwick launched a drive to centerfield and Beltran showed some NBA-like moves with his jump and the turnaround following the catch.
It's not fancy, but the movement with it is simply poetry.
Kenny Lofton might easily be one of the most underrated fielders of all time. The man had tremendous speed and took home four Gold Gloves in his 17-season career.
This catch occurred during his glory days with the Cleveland Indians, with whom he spent three different stints. In this particular case, Lofton chases the ball down to the wall, steps on the wall to push himself up and then reaches over the fence to make an epic catch.
The glorious defensive play occurs about one minute into the clip. Prepare to be wowed.
Easily one of the greatest athletes of all time, it's truly a shame that injuries derailed Bo Jackson's baseball career. The man had speed, unbelievable power to all fields and on top of that, he played football during the offseason.
His most famous catch would be one where he made a running grab and then did a little hot-stepper up the wall a la The Matrix, but the catch I'm going to showcase occurs at about 1:17 into this video.
Watch as he just jumps over the wall to get the ball with what seems to be little effort.
The man was just that good.
Besides being a monster athlete and completely ripped, there was a time when Gabe Kapler had a reputation as a decent outfielder.
In this case, his good defense comes in the form of a home run he robbed from Russell Martin at Dodger Stadium. Not only does he make the catch, but he puts his body on the line in doing so by half-falling into the stands.
Easily the greatest centerfielder of his generation, Ken Griffey Jr. was known for three things: his laid-back attitude, his powerful bat and his speed in the outfield.
That speed helped him make some great plays and as a result, he took home 10 straight Gold Gloves from 1990-1999.
The catch I've chosen to spotlight occurred against my beloved New York Yankees, but it's so good that it can't go unnoticed despite the fact that it may have broken some fans' hearts.
It occurs at 1:28 here, and all Barfield can do post-catch is look on, completely stunned.
There's nothing better than watching a charismatic player take away a home run from a hitter considered by many to be a major-league jerk.
The perfect instance of this occurred in the first inning of the 2002 MLB All-Star Game, when centerfielder Torii Hunter (then of the Minnesota Twins) jumped the wall and snagged a homer away from Barry Bonds.
This piece of baseball magic occurs at 1:45. Having watched this on TV, I can reliably report that the applause was deafening, so much that we had to turn the volume down.
Here we have one of the many legendary catches from the Japanese league.
This player, whose name I assume is Yamamori, not only makes a great leap, but literally steps one foot on the wall just to take a home run away.
It kind of makes one wonder, how come there isn't such a commitment to defense in the MLB?
It was Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS and the New York Mets appeared poised to get back to the World Series.
They would ultimately lose the game, but not before outfielder Endy Chavez kept hopes alive with a spectacular catch off the bat of Scott Rolen.
Chavez put his back to the wall and not only did he make a great leaping catch, but he managed to double-up on the runner at first.
I'm still trying to get over the wow factor on this one. Hiroshima Carp outfielder Amaya Soichiro not only climbs the wall in this clip, but the man STANDS ON TOP OF THE WALL.
He has a partition to hang onto while he makes the catch, but still—the athleticism just to get that high on the wall is incredible.
Adding onto that: Note his pitcher's appreciation after the catch is made.
Reed Johnson has made a name for himself as an average outfielder around the major leagues, but he'll probably be best known for this catch once he has retired.
Not only is this a great leaping grab that requires Johnson to reach over the wall, but he gets bonus points because in making the catch, he takes a grand slam away from Prince Fielder.
Once again, this isn't the fanciest of catches, but the circumstances surrounding it bump it up quite a bit.
Here, we have the original Spiderman catch. Masato Akamatsu of the Hiroshima Carp not only runs up the wall to make this acrobatic play, but his reaction afterward is priceless.
The smile on his face seems to say, "Eh...just another day at the office."
There's nothing better than robbing the other team of a home run, especially if it's during a rivalry game.
This type of magic occurred in an interleague game between the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros, when centerfielder Gary Matthews Jr. put the team on his back and made an incredible leaping grab to rob Mike Lamb of a home run.
Even better is Matthews' reaction post-catch. He just trots in towards the dugout since it was the final out.
No major emotion, no flashiness, no nothing. Just good old-fashioned baseball purity.
Footage of this incredible catch can be seen here.