With the largest prize ever to be awarded for a fantasy baseball game up for grabs, it makes sense to try and figure out ways to improve your chances of making successful picks every day.
One way is to build a super-computer and devise a program that calculates which hitter is most likely to get a hit off a particular pitcher on any given day, but let's be honest: not all of us are familiar with the intricacies of building super-computers. Besides, all the number-crunching in the world won't guarantee a winning pick.
You're best off simply keeping a few key factors in mind as you look through the day's matchups to narrow down your choices.
First off, you'll want to pick hitters who bat at or near the top of their lineups. From a probability standpoint, the top-of-the order hitters get more at-bats per game than the guys at the bottom. From a strategy standpoint, a manager usually bats his best hitters in the top three or four spots, and those are obviously the ones who are most likely to give you at least one hit.
Not all top-of-the-order hitters are worth pursuing; sometimes, a manager will bat a high-walk, high-strikeout slugger in the three-hole. These are the players you want to avoid. Disciplined sluggers tend to look at too many pitches as they wait for one they can blast into the stratosphere, leading to a high share of multiple-walk, multiple-strikeout games. In real life, the walks they generate help to offset their strikeouts, but a walk is not as good as a hit in Beat the Streak presented by Mitchum.
You'd like to avoid injury-prone players, if possible. Obviously, these guys can't deliver you any hits if they're too hurt to play, but the real danger comes when they're in the lineup. How many times have we seen Ken Griffey Jr. or Chipper Jones pull up lame while running the bases or chasing a batted ball? If you have one of those guys selected, and he has to be helped off the field after going hitless in his only at-bat, then your streak is history.
It's also a good idea to pick a player who's facing a starting pitcher with a high ERA or a team considered to have a subpar staff. If you're a casual fan and aren't sure about the quality of pitching on most teams, then fear not; we've got you covered with columns that run down the basics of every American League and National League pitching staff.
Other than that, the only other advice worth offering is to make sure you remember to make your picks at least five minutes before the start of that day's games. It would be a shame to have a long streak get snapped because you were busy daydreaming about how to spend your $1 million prize and forgot to select a player.
The 56-game mark is just waiting to be broken, so play Beat the Streak presented by Mitchum today, and keep an eye out for the players who could help you take home the fantasy jackpot.
Tim Ott is a fantasy writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.