Nothing shifts momentum in baseball like robbing a team of a home run.
Whether it’s a Gold Glove star showing off the leather with a leaping grab, a Spider-Man-like climb up the wall, or a speedster diving into the stands to get the out, stealing a home run ball is the ultimate display of athleticism and skill for an outfielder. These plays make the highlight reel and get burned into the memories of fans—especially when they happen in the playoffs.
Here's a look at the most outstanding home run robberies of the millennium:
Mike Trout, 2012
The Los Angeles Angels star took the MLB by storm in 2012, winning American League Rookie of the Year and showing the baseball world that he was a superstar. Trout punctuated his opening campaign by making this leaping grab against the Detroit Tigers in September in the middle of the team's Wild Card chase. Tigers slugger Prince Fielder muscled a ball straight to center field, but Trout tracked the ball perfectly, timing his jump and bringing the ball back for the final out of the game. Apparently Trout really just wanted to go home.
Endy Chavez, 2006
The lanky outfielder earned the hearts of Mets fans in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, preserving a 1-1 tie with this legendary robbery of Scott Rolen. Chavez jumped so high he smashed his shoulder on the top of the wall—and to make it even more impressive, he doubled up Jim Edmonds on second base to end the inning. Ultimately, the Mets lost this game and the series, but Chavez sure made it more exciting to watch.
DeWayne Wise, 2009
This is what you call a “perfect” catch. Wise, a lefty, played for eight different teams in his career, but his most memorable moment was with the Chicago White Sox. With pitcher Mark Buehrle just three outs away from a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Wise was put in the game as a defensive replacement—and he was waiting when Rays hitter Gabe Kapler launched the ball towards left-center field. Kaper sent the ball just high enough to get out of the park for a home run, but Wise flung himself full speed up at the wall and pulled it back in. Wise rolled back off the wall and juggled the catch, but hung on, preserving Buerhle's perfect game.
Jarrod Dyson, 2016
The first home run robbery in Marlins Park history was a fantastic feat of athletic performance by the speedy Kansas City Royals outfielder. Dyson reacted perfectly to the ball off the bat with a great jump and covered nearly 100 feet before leaping into the wall and snatching the home run in his glove. Dyson reached a top speed of 20 mph and MLB Statcast had his route efficiency rated at over 95 percent for this incredible catch.
Ichiro Suzuki, 2005
The Seattle Mariners star routinely made highlight-reel catches while winning 10-straight Gold Glove awards—including this incredible catch against Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz—but this robbery of Garrett Anderson’s home run might be his best one. Ichiro went full Spider-Man, leaping up the right field wall, where he literally hung onto the top to locate the ball, spun off one of his planted feet, and snagged the ball to deny the two-run shot. Hall of Fame Mariners announcer Dave Niehaus called the catch “unbelievable.”
Mike Trout, 2016
Happy birthday, Mike. On the day he turned 25 years old, the Gold Glove-winning outfielder gave himself the gift of robbing a grand slam. When Leonys Martin of the Seattle Mariners fired a screamer deep into center field, Trout leaped over the Safeco Field wall and held on to keep the ball in the park. Trout has made routine work of robbing balls in the outfield, but this one’s impressive for how much ground he made, showing off his speed as he traveled over 30 feet to track the ball to the wall.
Gary Matthews Jr., 2006
The Texas Rangers outfielder seemingly defied gravity on this grab against the Houston Astros. Matthews tracked the long shot from Mike Lamb deep into centerfield, timing his jump perfectly to make the twisting, leaping out to end the game.
Mookie Betts, 2015
The Boston Red Sox outfielder went full throttle to chase down this smash from Baltimore Orioles slugger Chris Davis—and he nearly left Fenway Park in the process. In the top of the 9th with pitcher Rich Hill throwing a shutout, Betts leaped over the outfield wall and almost fell into the Red Sox bullpen, hanging on for the final out of the game.
Coco Crisp, 2013
During Game 3 of the American League Division Series, the Oakland Athletics were clinging to a 1–0 lead when beefy Detroit Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder cannonballed a shot deep enough to get over the center field wall. But Crisp covered over 50 feet and pulled in the ball for the out, making an incredible play to rob Fielder of a home run.
Mike Trout, 2015
The Los Angeles Angels were in the middle of a playoff chase late in September when Mike Trout snagged this ball off the bat of Jesus Montero. Down 2-1 against the Seattle Mariners with two men on base, Trout climbed the wall—literally—to keep his team in the game. Trout reached a peak speed of 17 mph and covered nearly 90 feet before reaching over the wall and bringing the ball back. Even though the team missed the postseason, the Angels later won on a walk-off in this game thanks to Trout’s heroics.
Kevin Kiermaier, 2015
The Tampa Bay Rays outfielder won a Gold Glove in 2015 for plays like this. Kiermaier has become a human highlight reel of diving catches, and in 2015 he notched one of his most impressive catches by going over the wall at Camden Yards to rob the Orioles' Manny Machado of a home run. Kiermaier reacted almost pre-emptively to the hit and covered over 60 feet while tracking the ball to the wall.
Andrew Benintendi, 2016
Welcome to the show, rookie. At 22 years old, Boston Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi hadn’t even been in the big leagues for three weeks when he made this herculean effort against the Tampa Bay Rays, flinging himself half-over the short left field fence to bring back a home run in the bottom of the eighth inning and preserving the lead for an eventual win.