2 BTS leaders chasing DiMaggio, $5.6M

Beat the Streakers eligible to win from pool of 2 million prizes

2 BTS leaders chasing DiMaggio, $5.6M

Two Beat the Streak participants are nearing the 40-game mark as they chase Joe DiMaggio's famed 56-game hitting streak from 1941.

Current BTS leader "Colterreid" extended his or her streak to 38 on Thursday, and "manincharge623," aka Mick Ciallela, extended his to 37. That means the two are starting to get close to 57 consecutive correct picks, or one more than DiMaggio's streak, and therefore the grand prize. In the 15 previous seasons of BTS, no player has reached that reward, which is now worth $5.6 million.

Play Beat the Streak, win $5.6 million

For Ciallela, who is one game behind the leader, this current streak represents a personal best for a player who said he has been involved with BTS for "several years." The 38-year-old resident of New London, Conn., has surpassed his previous high, a 35-game streak in 2013.

Beat the Streak: May 20

Ciallela said he doesn't stick with one specific strategy. Sometimes he thinks about his picks more in terms of the opposing pitcher than the hitter, and he also considers batter-pitcher matchup history, splits and more. If he looks for one additional edge, it's for someone playing at altitude.

"I think about a third of my picks have been taking players at Coors Field, which is a good place to target as a tiebreaker," he said.

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Ciallela, originally from Mount Vernon, N.Y., is a Yankees fan who counts Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter as his favorite players. In fact, Ciallela was at both of their final home games at Yankee Stadium, which he remembers as "amazing moments to witness live."

Re-live the magic from Joe DiMaggio's famed 56-game hit streak

In order to experience an amazing moment of his own by extending his streak all the way to 57, Ciallela knows he will have to overcome a lot. But if he gets there, he hopes to use his grand prize to pay for a new house, a wedding and a trip to Las Vegas.

"Honestly, I try not to even think about it," Ciallela said of beating the streak. "I'm still so far away, and the leaderboard is hotly contested."

Follow Joe D.'s 56-game hit streak at @TheStreak

At the top of that contested leaderboard is the player "Colterreid," whose streak began on April 30 with the Marlins' Christian Yelich and the Royals' Lorenzo Cain. This is the "Double Down" strategy, whereby a BTS participant selects two players on the same day. If both get a hit, the streak advances by two games, but if either goes hitless, the streak ends.

This has proven to be a pretty successful approach for Colterreid, who has stuck with it every time. The exception was May 7, when Boston's Travis Shaw and David Ortiz both went hitless. Fortunately, Colterreid was saved by the "Mulligan" feature, which is a one-time streak savior that can be used early on, specifically on runs that are between 10 and 15 picks long.

After the mulligan, the streak continued. Most recently, Colterreid went with a double dose of Mariners on Thursday, tabbing Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano in the team's afternoon game against the Orioles at Camden Yards. Cruz and Cano each got one hit, allowing Colterreid to scrape by and continue to march toward DiMaggio.

Zinkie picks two-start pitchers

If nobody wins the grand prize this season, the player with the longest streak still gets a $10,000 consolation prize, and 2 million other prizes also were given out last year, for streaks as small as five. But winning BTS is also easier than ever now, thanks to features such as the "Double Down" and the "Mulligan," both employed by the current leader. Players also can take as many days off as they want during a streak if the matchups aren't attractive, as long as they reach 57 by season's end.

It would be particularly fitting if a player could reach 57 this season, when MLB.com is honoring the 75th anniversary of DiMaggio's hitting streak -- which began on May 15, 1941 -- by providing daily recaps of each game.

Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.