Beat the Streak leader five picks from BTS mark

Beat the Streak leader five picks from BTS mark

Two picks at a time, Graham Manning is approaching two Beat the Streak milestones.

Taking advantage of the game's "Double Down" option for a second straight day, Manning -- user "manning.gpm" -- selected Jose Altuve of the Astros and Xander Bogaerts of the Red Sox on Friday, pushing his streak to 44 games. That puts Manning only five successful picks from tying Terry Sims' all-time BTS record of 49, set earlier this season, and 13 away from the $5.6 million grand prize.

But should Manning falter, another challenger also has emerged. User "dtra1203" -- real name unknown -- reached the 40 mark on Friday with a successful pick of the White Sox's Jose Abreu.

Play BTS, win $5.6 million

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 the lifetime's worth of fame and fortune, a Streaker must top Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio's magical hitting-streak total of 56, set in 1941, by one. In nearly 16 years of BTS play, nobody has "bested" Joe D.

It's now easier than ever for players to chase down DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak. Users now have the option of employing the "Double Down" feature, as Manning did on Friday, to advance their streaks two games at a time.

Additionally, BTS research filters such as batting-order position, right- or left-handed pitchers and cold opposing pitchers are at fans' disposal. BTS players can also take days off between selections if they don't find ideal matchups.

There wasn't much mystery to Manning's approach on Friday, as Altuve and Bogaerts rank first and second in the Majors, respectively, in hits. Manning also has leaned on the Red Sox shortstop quite a bit, picking him eight times during his streak.

Altuve whacked a first-inning home run off the Tigers' Matt Boyd at Comerica Park, finishing 1-for-4. Bogaerts also went deep, with a seventh-inning blast off Angels reliever Jhoulys Chacin, and finished 2-for-5 with a double in Anaheim.

Abreu, on the other hand, made "dtra1203" sweat it out. The Chicago first baseman didn't pick up a hit until a ninth-inning single and ended his night 1-for-5 as his club lost to the Twins, 2-1, in 12 innings.

Of course, the game is now about more than just extending the streak. There's also MLB.com's new BTS challenge -- the ".406 contest," where 0-for nights are OK. This secondary competition is an ode to Ted Williams' incredible .406 batting average in 1941.

If a player's BTS picks "hit" .406 or better from now through the season's end (with a minimum of 250 plate appearances), he or she will be eligible to win four tickets to six regular-season games in 2017.

Additionally, whenever a season goes by without someone claiming the $5.6 million grand prize, a $10,000 consolation prize is awarded to those atop the calendar year's leaderboard. On top of that, the BTS game-makers hand out millions of other prizes for streaks as small as five.

It would be especially fitting if a BTS user broke the BTS drought this year. After all, it's the 75th anniversary of DiMaggio's remarkable streak, which was commemorated with daily recaps on MLB.com and @TheStreak on Twitter.

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.