A first-year Beat the Streak participant from Allen Park, Mich., has become the first player during the 2016 season to tally 40 straight correct picks.The participant is Nathan Bowdler, a mechanical engineer who plays BTS under the username, "nathanbowdler." He advanced to the 40-mark on Tuesday night when Red Sox
A first-year Beat the Streak participant from Allen Park, Mich., has become the first player during the 2016 season to tally 40 straight correct picks.
The participant is Nathan Bowdler, a mechanical engineer who plays BTS under the username, "nathanbowdler." He advanced to the 40-mark on Tuesday night when Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts and Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy both recorded hits.
That means Bowdler is that much closer to 57 consecutive correct picks -- one more than Joe DiMaggio's famed hitting streak in 1941 -- and therefore the grand prize. No participant in the 15 previous seasons of BTS has reached that reward, which is now worth $5.6 million.
Bowdler started playing BTS this year, as he joined a group of his fiancee's father's colleagues that competes to see who can build the longest streak each month. "If I get to 57, I'm going to give each of the guys in our Beat The Streak group a nice percentage, pay off my student loans and buy a house for me and my fiancee," Bowdler said. "We have a baby due October 28th.
"Also, I'd like to visit every ballpark in the MLB with my future brother-in-law, Joey."
Bowdler was able to increase his streak to 40 on Tuesday 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.
He has successfully utilized the Double Down strategy almost every day to quickly build to 40 straight correct picks, after beginning his streak when Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich went 1-for-4 on April 30.
Tuesday was the first time he picked Bogaerts during the streak, but Murphy -- baseball's leading hitter with a .392 average -- has been a frequent choice. Bowdler has successfully used Murphy four times in the run to 40, tied for second with Angels outfielder Mike Trout behind Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (used six times).
The fact that Cabrera is his most-used selection so far isn't surprising, given he is a Tigers fan who counts the two-time American League Most Valuable Player Award winner as his favorite player.
When making picks, Bowdler said he sticks closely to batter vs. pitcher matchups and tends to avoid players who are currently in the midst of hitting streaks.
"My strategy is simple; if the batter has good numbers against the opposing pitcher, I pick him," Bowdler said. "I'm kind of scared to ride out streak players. I just go by history."
Time will tell if he can ride that strategy all the way to 57 straight correct picks.
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.
But with features such as the aforementioned 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, winning BTS is 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.