Debating the system: Should points cross leagues?

Updated: August 2, 2009

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Jack Wilson moved from the NL to the AL. Should his Web Gem points go with him?

Editor's Note: This year, for the first time, "Baseball Tonight" decided to track Web Gems, creating a scoring system and weekly leaderboard to be posted each Monday on the "Baseball Tonight" Clubhouse page. Of course, we couldn't get through the first year without some controversy.

In the wake of the trade deadline, an argument ensued and has continued on a nearly nightly basis on the air, with BBTN host Steve Berthiaume contending that a player's Web Gem points should not carry over if the player is traded to another league (which is significant since Jack Wilson, who was traded from Pittsburgh to Seattle, is currently atop the leaderboard). Researcher Mark Simon, who oversees the board, leads a large group that thinks Berthiaume's argument is, well, silly. They each get their say.

By Mark Simon, ESPN Research

"Obviously, defense is my game. It's what I've done to get to the big leagues and stay in the big leagues. I've taken a lot of pride in that."
-- Jack Wilson, in his first meeting with the media in Seattle after being traded from the Pirates (July 29)

Jack Wilson has played nine seasons in the majors, and not once has he played for a club that's posted more than 75 wins. Not once. And now we're going to punish this poor guy by resetting his Web Gems total back to zero because he was traded to the American League? That seems a bit harsh, and, quite honestly, it makes no sense.

Simple logic dictates that we leave Wilson's total alone. Yes, we reset statistics such as home runs, wins and batting average when a player switches leagues (that's why Matt Holliday's home run total is listed as "3" instead of "14."), but such customs do not apply when we're looking at Web Gems, which isn't broken into leagues but is done across the majors. Yes, he switched leagues, but leagues don't matter in Web Gems.

Wilson is a player who has paid his dues. He plays hard and respects the game. He's led his league in triples and sacrifices, but I think he'd acknowledge his greatest honor would be as the "Baseball Tonight" Web Gems King. Don't deprive him of that honor.

By Steve Berthiaume, ESPN

Mark, as "Web Gems Points Czar," your position on the transfer of Web Gems points from league to league is sadly misguided, much like your allegiance to the Mets, but that's for another day. You're missing the point on this one the way Oliver Perez misses a strike zone. Yes, by THAT much.

For the record, this isn't about Jack Wilson. Jack Wilson rocks. You can't love baseball the way we all do and NOT love the way Jack Wilson plays. I wish my team had Jack Wilson. (Any chance he'd clear waivers?) If, as you wrote, Jack Wilson would REALLY "acknowledge it is his greatest honor to be the 'Baseball Tonight' Web Gems King," then I think even he would admit he should be tossed out of the lifeboat he sailed out of Pittsburgh on and, for the sake of Web Gems' integrity, be thrown back into the Pirates' clubhouse, where he'd essentially feel like Tom Hanks in "Castaway" and no doubt end up talking nonsensically to a volleyball. (Think how confusing THAT would be: trying to have a conversation with a volleyball that has the same name that you do!)

Here's the bottom line: In 2008, CC Sabathia went 11-2 for the Brewers with a 1.65 ERA. In his 17 starts for Milwaukee, he pitched seven complete games, including three shutouts while striking out 128 batters and walking only 25. Phenomenal.

In the 53 games Manny Ramirez played for the Dodgers after he was traded at the 2008 deadline, Manny finished only four points shy of .400 with 17 home runs in 187 at-bats with Los Angeles. Those are performances that get you Cy Youngs and MVPs, but because their seasons were essentially cut in half by moving from league to league, neither player was able to garner appropriate consideration for the awards. (By the way, did you know Manny's middle name is Aristides? Good thing that's not his first name; can you image Aristides Being Aristides? Doesn't have the same ring to it.)

Why should Web Gems be any different? I love Web Gems; they rock like Jack Wilson rocks. That being said, let's not create the exception. Our culture is overloaded by exceptions. We rarely see the lesson or example that shows responsibility and accountability are still among our priorities, that the rules are the same for all. Major League Baseball statistics do NOT carry over from league to league; neither should Web Gems points. I hope Jack Wilson leads the league in Web Gems from here on in, but right now his total should stand at zero.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: July 30 | July 29 | July 28 | July 27 | July 26

WEB GEMS SCOREBOARD

Touch 'Em AllHere is this week's leaderboard, with points still transferring between leagues despite Steve Berthiaume's protests.

Web Gem points will be calculated by awarding five points for the night's top defensive play, four points for second, three for third, two for fourth and one for fifth. Scoring will be based on the Web Gems from the last "Baseball Tonight" show to air on a given night.

Web Gem points leaderboard
Jack Wilson 37
Carlos Gomez 27
Brandon Inge 26
Jacoby Ellsbury 23
Mark Reynolds 22
Orlando Hudson 21
Ryan Zimmerman 20
Robert Andino 20
Cristian Guzman 20

Web Gem appearances leaderboard (players)
Brandon Inge Detroit Third base 9
Jack Wilson Pittsburgh Shortstop 9
David Wright New York Mets Third base 8
Carlos Gomez Minnesota Center field 7
Ryan Zimmerman Washington Third base 7

Web Gem appearances leaderboard (teams)
Pittsburgh 26
Philadelphia 24
Washington 23
Boston 23
Cincinnati 22
New York Mets 21

ON DECK: MONDAY'S BEST MATCHUPS

Royals at Rays, 12:08 p.m. ET

Zack Greinke went 0-3 in five July starts. Bad month, right? Well, Greinke allowed more than three runs in only one start and his ERA rose very little, going from 1.95 at the start of the month to 2.08. In his five starts, the Royals scored two or fewer runs four times.

Giants at Astros, 8:05 p.m. ET

Matt Cain has allowed two runs and 11 hits over his past three starts, stretching across 23 innings. In his last start alone, Mike Hampton gave up nine runs and eight hits in only four innings. Hampton hasn't given up fewer than four runs or gone longer than 5 2/3 innings since July 6.

Brewers at Dodgers, 10:10 p.m. ET

Clayton Kershaw is 5-0 over his past nine starts. Since June 16, Kershaw has lowered his ERA from 4.13 to 2.76, which is seventh-best in the NL. Manny Parra, after a run in which he lost four consecutive decisions, has won his past two.

For the rest of Monday's schedule, click here.


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BBTN ON THE AIR: MONDAY

TIME WHO'S ON?
10 p.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Dave Winfield, Chris Singleton
12 a.m. ET
ESPN
Host: Karl Ravech
Analysts: John Kruk, Dave Winfield, Chris Singleton

BASEBALL TONIGHT MINUTE: LIFE AFTER DEADLINE

TOUCH 'EM ALL

Insider Who went deep? Keep track of all the home runs hit each day on "Baseball Tonight" and on the Baseball Tonight Clubhouse page. For more, check out the Home Run Tracker page.

Home Run Tracker
NAME HR OPPSITUATION
Justin Morneau, MIN28WeaverBot 7: 0-0, 0 Outs. None on.
Aaron Hill, TOR26MazzaroTop 1: 2-2, 0 Outs. 1 on.
Jermaine Dye, CWS24SabathiaBot 3: 2-1, 1 Out. 1 on.
Kendry Morales, LAA23MijaresTop 8: 0-0, 1 Out. 2 on.
Kendry Morales, LAA22PerkinsTop 5: 0-1, 0 Outs. 2 on.
The complete list of Sunday's homers

SIMON SAYS

Simon Says ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep, looking for the night's best baseball numbers.

Tonight, he looks at just how hot the Angels' offense has been since the All-Star break:

Angels since ASG
Runs per game 7.6
BA .321
Home runs 28
W-L 14-3

Kendry Morales has been the hottest of the bunch, with eight homers and 20 RBIs in 14 games.

WEB GEMS

SUNDAY'S BEST AND WORST

BEST
Melky CabreraMelky Cabrera and Victor Martinez made it a tough choice. Cabrera hit for the cycle in the Yankees' win over the White Sox, while Martinez rapped out five hits and drove home four in Boston's 18-10 win against the Orioles. A cycle, though, always wins.
WORST
• Pick a pitcher from the Orioles' game with the Red Sox. The two staffs combined to give up 38 hits and 28 runs. The worst line in a game full of them? Well, that would belong to O's starter Jason Berken, who gave up seven hits and six runs in 1 1/3 innings of work. Clay Buchholz's nine hits and seven runs in four innings wasn't far behind.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

Melky Cabrera's failures against off-speed pitches in the first three games of the Yankees-White Sox series were more aberration than trend.

Entering Sunday, Cabrera was batting .303 against off-speed pitches -- nearly 80 points higher than the league average. Part of the reason he failed to get a hit against an off-speed pitch in the first three games was that he didn't swing the bat, swinging at only three of the 12 off-speed pitches he saw.

On Sunday, Cabrera made the most of his limited opportunities, taking cuts at three of the four off-speed pitches he saw. The result? Cabrera ended up hitting for the 14th cycle in Yankees history.

Melky Cabrera
Weekend series against White Sox
First three games Sunday
H-AB 1-10 4-5
Off-speed pitches seen 12 4
Swings at off-speed pitch 3 3
Hits vs. off-speed pitch 0 3

-- ESPN Stats & Information

FANTASY: PREVIEW OF MONDAY'S GAMES

Adam Madison examines the nine games on Monday's slate.

Fantasy Madison ranks the pitchers scheduled to take the mound and supplies loads of other information that could help shape your roster for Monday. Daily Notes