Aaron Brown woke up Wednesday alone in first place on this season's Beat the Streak leaderboard. He went to bed 12 picks from becoming a millionaire.
Brown, 30, made his 45th straight successful BTS selection on Wednesday, when he correctly predicted that Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera would tally a hit against the Indians. The reigning American League Most Valuable Player came through right away, recording his 50th RBI of the season on a first-inning double to left field off Cleveland right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. Cabrera did not stop there, adding an eighth-inning home run for good measure.
"It helps you relax a little easier at night when it happens that quick," Brown said.
Cabrera, who last season became the first big leaguer in 45 years to win the Triple Crown, is again a legitimate threat to lead the AL in batting average, home runs and RBIs. Entering Thursday, Cabrera leads all Major League hitters by a wide margin with a .387 average and 52 RBIs, and his 13 home runs rank one behind the leader -- Chris Davis -- in the Junior Circuit.
"I'm really starting to run out of words to describe him -- I'm just glad I get to watch him play for [my favorite] team every night," Brown said. "I remember watching Tony Gwynn always hit for a high average, Frank Thomas and Ken Griffey Jr. hit for power and RBIs when I was growing up. It's unbelievable to see Miggy do all three with such high success."
Brown -- a Sterling Heights, Mich., resident -- may not be able to smell the grand prize just yet -- he's 78.9 percent there -- but his olfactory senses could kick in soon.
"I feel the same now as I did when I started Day 1 -- just hoping to pick the right matchup and be lucky 57 times," Brown said.
In extending his streak to 45 on Wednesday, Brown returned to the well that has proved so fruitful during his run, picking Cabrera for the 20th time in 45 tries.
Of his 45 correct picks, Brown has called on a player from his hometown team 60 percent of the time. Cabrera -- having come through on 20 occasions -- has been the biggest contributor by far. Fellow Detroit masher Prince Fielder has left his mark as well, keeping Brown alive six times. Torii Hunter has also chipped in, coming through during his one and only opportunity to assist.
"Those guys are amazing to watch and their work ethic is remarkable," said Brown of the Tigers in an email to MLB.com, which often reaches out to BTS players once they approach 40 games, in an effort to shed some light on who they are and how they pick.
Through Beat the Streak, participants try to establish a virtual "hitting streak" by picking one or two big leaguers per day, with their run continuing as long as their selections collect at least one hit in that game. Nobody has matched Joe DiMaggio's magic number of 56, set in 1941, but on average, three per season reach 40; the record of 49 was set in 2007.
So far this year, only two contestants -- Brown and Ray -- have reached the 40-pick plateau. Ray made 43 straight correct picks before his streak came to a close. Several Streakers, however, have a chance to join the exclusive club in the coming days.
If he can make 12 more correct picks without a miss, Brown will win more money than most will earn in a lifetime. But how difficult is it to record a run that long? Maybe not as hard as one might imagine.
There have been 21 Major League hitting streaks of at least a dozen games in 2013. Cabrera is on that list -- his longest is 12.
"[Cabrera's] work ethic is tremendous, and he is the best hitter in the game," Brown said. "His transition to third base after Prince arrived has been remarkable, and the city of Detroit just loves his attitude and effort. I think the best thing about his game is that he's always smiling and having fun. He realizes that he is playing a game and enjoys being out there every day."
Brown has certainly benefited from Cabrera's consistency. During his run up the BTS ladder, his selections had hit a collective .380 (71-for-187). In order words, he is picking nearly as well as Cabrera is hitting. But the $5.6 million question is: Can Brown be the first Joe D. in BTS history?
That answer will have to wait.
Fans interested in joining the fun can do so free of charge, and participating takes only seconds a day. Not a bad deal considering the millions of reasons to play.
Zachary Finkelstein is a fantasy editor for MLB.com.