Framing the American League MVP debate

Updated: September 20, 2012, 1:50 AM ET
By Buster Olney

The best front-office minds in baseball have been the engines of change in the sport over the past two decades, and as a result, there are fewer bunts and more lineups stacked according to on-base percentage and a greater value placed on defense.

There has been a gradual trickle-down effect from the front-office spawn of Moneyball to the baseball writers, who have generally adopted and embraced that thinking. This was apparent in 2010, when the pitcher wins statistic was placed on life support after being a primary evaluation tool for decades. Felix Hernandez went 13-12 that year, ranking 18th in pitcher wins, but he won the AL Cy Young Award anyway. For some baseball officials, the pitcher wins statistic still has a heartbeat as a small measure of how a pitcher can push across a finish line in a tough inning, but it is mostly extinct.

In a few months, when MVP votes are tallied, we will know whether another statistic, the RBI -- rendered obsolete by most front offices as an evaluation tool during the past decade -- is being treated similarly by the baseball writers.