For just the second time ever, Beat the Streak presented by MGM Resorts has a player with a 51-game hit streak. That is just six shy of winning $5.6 million for successfully selecting a Major League player to get a hit on a given day 57 consecutive times, which would eclipse Joe DiMaggio's record 56-game streak in 1941.
Roberto Aguirre-Hunn Jr., the current Beat the Streak leader, tied the all-time BTS record when the Astros' Michael Brantley singled to right field against the Rangers' Lance Lynn in the third inning at Globe Life Field on Thursday. That tied Aguirre-Hunn Jr. with Robert Mosley, whose streak ended at 51 in 2017.
Beat the Streak has proven to be a difficult challenge for every player who has participated since the game began back in 2001. There hasn't yet been a winner of the $5.6 million grand prize in the 19 years since.
"I'm flattered and proud my hobby [baseball] got me here," Aguirre-Hunn told MLB.com in an email. "I've always been a sports guy. But I never could have imagined getting this far.
"I am truly honored, being right along with Robert Mosley as the best of the best so far. Honestly, I was at home with my family watching the game, with high anxiety when Brantley got a hit on his second at-bat. I had a gut feeling most of the day with Brantley, felt confident. The All-Star break seemed like it went on forever. So it felt really good to nail that pick. This streak is built mostly on luck; there's plenty of times my streak should have ended and yet it's still here. I feel blessed!"
In BTS history, there have been 83 streaks of 40 or more, with Mosley and Aguirre-Hunn holding the only two streaks of 50 or more. Aguirre-Hunn has the longest streak this season after passing Calgary native Chris Walsh, who reached 49 games before his streak came to an end last week.
Aguirre-Hunn, a 32-year-old kitchen manager and Tigers fan from East Lansing, Mich., has big plans should he become the first to take home the $5.6 million payday.
"I would use it to buy a house for my family for sure," Aguirre-Hunn said. "Stability is key for success, and this would be used for savings for our daughter's college fund."
So, what's Aguirre-Hunn's strategy for his BTS picks? He's keeping it simple, and he hasn't been afraid to ask for help along the way.
"This is only my second year playing BTS," he said, "and my previous highest streak only ever reached eight. I have no specific strategy, really. Honestly, I pick the not-so-obvious players. And my amazing girlfriend Angela helps me in a pinch.
"Honestly I haven't told too many people; I'm trying to keep a level head," Aguirre-Hunn added. "The few I have told are in shock. My girlfriend is excited and proud of me. My four-year old daughter is rooting for me as well. I'm happy."
Aguirre-Hunn, whose streak began June 10 when he successful picked the Nationals' Anthony Rendon and the Rangers' Hunter Pence, has had his picks combine for a .357 batting average (75-for-210) over the first 50 games of the streak. DiMaggio, by comparison, hit .408 (91-for-224) during his legendary 56-game streak.
Should no one break DiMaggio's mark, a $10,000 consolation prize will be given to the player with the highest streak this season. Jimmy Dixon claimed the prize last season, with a streak of 45. Additionally, the BTS game-makers hand out millions of other prizes for streaks as small as five.