Chasing 56: BTS leader, Bogaerts moving up

willmccormack14 in pursuit of $5.6MM; Red Sox SS behind Nomar

Chasing 56: BTS leader, Bogaerts moving up

Precisely 75 years ago to the day, Joltin' Joe DiMaggio notched a pair of hits in a nondescript Yankees loss.

The New York Times, under blocks of other news deemed more fit to print, wrapped up the recap with the following nugget.

"DiMaggio, incidentally, has hit safely in nineteen straight games."

Of course, said footnote would slowly but surely morph into a national headline, as the Yankee Clipper went on to tally hits in an MLB-record 56 consecutive contests.

Bogaerts two-run single

In the three-quarters of a century since the magic of 1941, no one has come close to DiMaggio's mark.

The streak obsession has only strengthened during the ensuing decades, with MLB.com creating the "Beat the Streak" contest in its honor 15-plus years ago.

Play Beat the Streak; win $5.6 million

To Beat the Streak, one has to best Joe D.'s remarkable run by one. But of the millions who have tried to tally a 57-game "hitting streak" in BTS, none has persisted long enough to win the grand prize, now a whopping $5.6 million.

One BTS participant, however, is getting awfully close. Although his true identity remains largely shrouded in secrecy, "willmccormack14" is garnering a great deal of attention for his success; he's made 44 consecutive correct picks -- 77 percent of the way to the life-changing payday.

In the "real world" of Major League Baseball, Boston's Xander Bogaerts is racking up an impressive streak of his own. The Red Sox shortstop has hit safely in 26 consecutive contests, a modest total when compared to that of willmccormack14 but an impressive one nonetheless. Bogaerts' streak, of course, comes shortly after fellow Boston teammate Jackie Bradley Jr. went 29 straight games sans an 0-fer. If he can pass Bradley by one, Bogaerts will tie Nomar Garciaparra (1997) for the longest hit streak by a shortstop in Red Sox history.

You may be sitting at work or home -- readying to play BTS on your computer or smart phone -- and asking the very question posed at MLB.com today: Which streak -- willmccormack14's or Bogaert's -- is likelier to last?

If you look at history, the answer is simple. While both men face an uphill battle, 56 is easier to approach in BTS than MLB.

The stats speak for themselves. Since 1941, only one big leaguer -- the Reds' Pete Rose -- has reached the 44-game mark. In fact, no one has hit in 39 straight since 1987, when Paul Molitor busted out base knock after base knock for the Brewers.

Comparatively, dozens of BTS participants have reached "Club 40" in recent years, with Mike Karatzia getting as far as 49 in '07.

Beat the Streak: June 2

Now, this is not to say that BTS is simple; it's not -- even if it's now easier than ever with an array of fan-friendly features. Participants can pick one or two hitters per day -- expediting their way up the BTS ladder -- or sit out whenever the choices seem suboptimal.

Bogaerts, meanwhile, does not have the luxury to skip out whenever he pleases; nor would he want to do so. In the coming days, he will face several formidable starters, most notably Toronto's Marcus Stroman and Marco Estrada during a weekend set.

willmccormack14, of course, can avoid Toronto's ace and No. 2, instead feasting on back-of-the-rotation arms and hurlers in hitter-friendly venues.

Astros manager A.J. Hinch, one of many impressed by Bogaerts, believes the 23-year-old has what it takes to best Joe D.'s spot in immortality.

"[Bogaerts] can hit the ball the other way and hits the ball low and finds a way to hit the ball to the outfield a lot," Hinch said. The Astros skipper was asked not about Bogaerts specifically, but rather his choice for the likeliest batter to hit in 57 straight. Hinch picked Bogaerts all on his own, and he was not alone.

willmccormack14 clearly has confidence in Bogaerts, too, having ridden his bat twice just last week. The American League's current batting-average leader (.347) obviously came through, extending the BTS leader's run to 37 and then 38.

The coming weeks could be challenging for willmccormack14 and Bogaerts alike, assuming their runs remain alive.

But with the right mix of strategy and luck, the summer of '16 might turn out to be a real hit.

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