2 BTS leaders get closer to DiMaggio, $5.6M

One participant extends streak to 41, another now at 40

2 BTS leaders get closer to DiMaggio, $5.6M

The first Beat the Streak participant to reach 40 straight correct picks in the 2016 season saw his streak come to an end Wednesday afternoon. But two players hit the 40-mark during Wednesday's slate of night games to move ever closer to 57 consecutive correct picks -- one more than Joe DiMaggio's famed hitting streak in 1941 -- and therefore the $5.6 million grand prize.

The new leader, who plays BTS under the username "Bigpapi123," declined to give a last name but identified himself as Charles from Connecticut. He made successful picks with Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and shortstop Xander Bogaerts on Wednesday to reach 41 straight correct selections -- a new high-water mark for BTS players in 2016.

Bradley Jr. and Bogaerts each extended their personal hitting streaks -- Bradley to 29 and Bogaerts to 18 -- vs. the Rockies on Wednesday.

The decision to pick a pair of Boston players isn't a new one for Charles, who said his favorite team is the Red Sox and his favorite player is David Ortiz. In fact, he's used a Red Sox player for every single pick during his current streak, which he said well exceeds his previous high of 17 since he began playing BTS last year.

Meanwhile, Bill Arter, a 68-year-old retiree from Decatur, Ill., whose username is "basa688," advanced his streak to 40 with successful picks of Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun and Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano.

Now in his third year playing Beat the Streak, Arter said his best streak previously was 23.

In contrast to the current BTS leader, Arter tends to avoid players from his favorite team, the Cardinals.

"I'm not usually superstitious, but I don't pick Cards players for the streak," he said. "I don't want to jinx them."

Rather, Arter said he often relies on the "law of averages" when making his BTS picks.

"If a player with a respectable average goes a game or two without a hit, the law says he is due," Arter said. "He becomes an even better pick if he has faced the opposing pitcher quite a few times with success."

Both participants were able to increase their streaks on Wednesday using 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. If either goes hitless, the streak ends.

Earlier in the day, Nathan Bowdler, who plays BTS under the username, "nathanbowdler," selected Angels outfielder Mike Trout and Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera in a bid to extend his streak to 42. Herrera homered, but Bowdler came up short when Trout went 0-for-4 with a sacrifice fly.

The mechanical engineer from Allen Park, Mich., became the first BTS participant in 2016 to reach 40 straight correct picks on Tuesday, when Bogaerts and Daniel Murphy picked up hits.

If nobody wins the grand prize this season, the player with the longest streak still gets a $10,000 consolation prize. Two million other prizes also were given out last year, for streaks as small as five.

Features such as the Double Down and the "Mulligan," which is a one-time streak savior that can be used specifically on runs that are between 10 and 15 picks long, make winning BTS easier than ever now. 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.

Having a BTS player topple the marvelous mark of 56 would be particularly fitting this season -- the 75th anniversary of DiMaggio's hitting streak, which began on May 15, 1941, and is being honored with daily recaps on MLB.com and @TheStreak on Twitter.

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