Bracket busted? Time to Beat the Streak

MLB.com's contest returns, giving fans chance to win $5.6 million prize

Bracket busted? Time to Beat the Streak

Around this time last year, MLB.com crunched a ton of numbers, analyzed an abundance of data and consulted with several of the world's most statistically savvy minds (that may be an over-exaggeration).

All of this, of course, was done to answer one burning question.

Which feat is easier to complete: A perfect NCAA "March Madness" bracket or 57 consecutive correct picks in MLB.com's Beat the Streak contest?

A mere $5.6 million -- the largest grand prize in fantasy sports history -- will be awarded for pulling off the latter.

In Beat the Streak, participants establish virtual "hitting streaks" by picking one or two big leaguers per day, with their runs continuing as long as their selections collect at least one hit in their contests. To claim a lifetime's worth of fame and fortune, a Streaker must top Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio's magic hitting-streak total of 56, set in 1941, by one. In 14 years of BTS play, nobody has "bested" Joe D.

We'll save your brains from the gory math, spare your eyes from figures with 18 zeros and get right to the point: Your chances of beating the streak are better than your odds of picking a flawless NCAA bracket. A lot better. Like 5 trillion times better, if you allow for a few computational liberties.

Looking back, nary a bracketologist went 63-0 with their March Madness picks last year. And, for the 14th straight season, BTS went champion-less. But despite never crowning a winner in a game that debuted the same year as Albert Pujols, the prospects for Beat the Streak success have never been better.

In recent years, BTS rules have been eased in concurrence with its growing jackpot. For instance, fans can now make up to two picks per calendar date and face no peril for taking an "off-day." Such luxuries were not offered in the game's first decade. Additionally, the odds of winning have also been enhanced via the "Mulligan" feature, where a Streaker can receive a "do-over" if his or her pick went 0-fer during a run that didn't exceed 15 straight games.

Although 2014 witnessed a lull for the BTS community -- with nary a Streaker exceeding 38 straight successful selections -- the previous campaign's results provide a reason to hope. Thirteen BTS participants entered "Club 40" after compiling runs of at least that length in 2013, although no one was able to crack Mike Karatzia's record 49-game streak from '07.

Speaking of near misses, in 2006, a participant posted back-to-back streaks of 31 and 27, with just one Joe Crede 0-fer standing in the way of BTS glory. So think about it -- with a seeing-eye single here or a bloop hit there, the apex of the BTS mountain could easily have been reached by now.

Even if you can't secure the millions sitting at the end of the BTS rainbow, you can still win many of the million-plus prizes awarded annually. So play all season long and you might wind up with free merchandise, All-Star Game tickets or with a lot of extra pocket cash.

Interested parties can visit mlb.com/bts or download the Beat the Streak app on Apple and Android devices.

Zachary Finkelstein is a fantasy editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.