PHILADELPHIA -- Barring a closing-day no-hitter for a third straight year, the only drama involving the Marlins as they close out the season will be the battle between Dee Gordon and Washington's Bryce Harper for the NL batting title.
It could not be any closer: Harper leads Gordon, .3307 to .3306. That's right. It's down to 1/10,000th of a point. And decimals count -- even beyond the third number on the right side of the point -- when it comes to deciding a champion.
If Wikipedia is to be trusted, here's what it has to say about close batting title races in the past:
The closest finish in a batting race came in 1945 when Snuffy Stirnweiss batted .309, topping Tony Cuccinello's .308 average for the American League title by .00008. George Kell beat out Williams in 1949 by .00015. The closest race in the National League came in 2003 when Albert Pujols held off Todd Helton on the last day of the season by .00022. The closest National League race before that was in 1931 with Chick Hafey edging out Bill Terry by .00028.
What makes this race especially interesting is that all MLB games today are starting at the same time. So it could create for some interesting strategy. Say Gordon bangs out hits in each of his first three at bats and Harper is 0 for 3. Does Marlins manager Dan Jennings take out Gordon to ensure the title for the second baseman? Does Nationals manager Matt Williams do the same if the scenario is reversed?
The Phillies are sending Dave Buchanan to the mound. Gordon has gone 2 for 6 against Buchanan. Harper will be facing the Mets' Jacob deGrom. Harper has gone 6 for 17 against deGrom. Advantage Harper.
So sit back and enjoy. But keep a calculator handy.