10/9: Too Close to Call? Not This Time

By Barbara Carvalho

It all came down to Buster Posey vs. Yasiel Puig, and it had nothing to do with the baseball playoffs.  No, it had everything to do with whether I would win this year’s (the 64th) season of the 300 Club.  The group that is made up of around 100 baseball junkies who each year pick ten players and three alternates from the entire major leagues as their roster for the season.

Having trailed miserably for much of the season, I surged in September owing in large part to batters like the Tigers Paul Goldschmidt who failed to qualify.  Although I have mixed feelings about Robinson Cano, (he cost me the 300 Club championship a few years back on the final day of the season, not to mention his deserting my Yankees for the West Coast this year), he made, along with Justin Morneau, for wonderful alternates.

At approximately 3:50 pm on game 162, I took a narrow lead when Daniel Murphy of the Mets (of all teams) finally got a hit in his last AB of the season.  Everyone was now accounted for with the exception of my chief competitor’s pick of Posey and my last gasp, Puig.  Would my .0003 lead hold up? I could barely stand the tension.  It was like watching Eli Manning lead my favorite football Giants down the field (twice) to win the Super Bowl, or waiting for the exit polls to confirm the pre-election estimates that I’m responsible for at The Marist Poll.

The 4pm games started badly for me when the Giants Posey belted a home run in his first AB… Would Puig hold the line?  Would Posey ruin my season?

Posey ended up being taken out of the game after going 2 for 4, closing the gap ever so slightly.  Puig went 0-3 but because of rounding only dropped 1 point for his lack of production.  Final result: I won by .0001 of a point.  Much closer than the Bush-Gore battle in Florida in 2000.

To what do I owe my success?  Does my career as a pollster improve my estimates as a predictor of baseball averages? Or, is it vice-versa?

I’ve pondered this for the better part of the week.  And, with the mid-term elections rapidly approaching, I feel my Marist Poll colleagues and our NBC News partners would like me to arrive at a definitive conclusion.

Here goes… I’m clearly a numbers person and enjoy compiling stats in both arenas.  Early trends also are key in baseball and politics.  I’m not required to pick the 300 Club players until roughly a month into the season and everyone knows there are plenty of pre-election polls to establish trends.  Both fields are also the subject of number-crunching aggregators.

There is, however, one startling difference between baseball and election prognostications.  With the 300 Club, there is no margin of error.  Thankfully, winners and losers in elections don’t require .0001 poll precision.