5/21/2013 10:42 P.M. ET
Miggy's HR extends BTS leader's streak to 44
By Zachary Finkelstein / MLB.com
Miguel Cabrera's go-ahead two-run homer in the sixth inning of Tuesday's game against the Indians certainly made many Tigers fans happy, but good luck locating anyone more excited than Sterling Heights, Mich., resident Aaron Brown, who took sole possession of the top spot on this season's Beat the Streak leaderboard when Cabrera's homer sailed over the center-field wall at Progressive Field.
"It feels pretty good to be alone at the top," Brown said. "I do want to take some time and say 'Thank you' to my family and friends who have been very supportive this past week during this streak. At times I think they're enjoying this more than I am."
Brown, 30, now has 44 straight successful selections during his run up the BTS ladder. If he can keep his streak alive for 13 more picks, he will win the grand prize of $5.6 million.
Cabrera arguably was the perfect pick for an evening such as this. For starters, he entered the game with a robust .387 batting average; no hitter was within 30 points of that mark.
If that wasn't enough of an argument, consider that Cabrera was able to face Cleveland starter Corey Kluber three times. Kluber -- who has a 5.19 ERA and 1.38 WHIP -- has allowed a hit to Cabrera five of the 12 times they have faced off in an official at-bat.
"I was relieved [when Cabrera recorded the streak-extending homer]," Brown said. "My original goal was to get to 44 and be in first by myself. I recall at some point last week watching the previous leader, Michael Ray, and thinking that he had a pretty good chance at winning the whole thing. I'm still pretty shocked and amazed to be sitting here tonight at 44."
Although Cabrera ultimately came through, there was a period of angst after he was retired in his first two at-bats.
"I was concerned that they might walk him with the base being open [during his third at-bat]," Brown said, "[but] he just missed his last pitch on his previous at-bat, so I thought if he was given anything close, he had a pretty good chance of hitting it."
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.
If Brown can reach 57, he said, his only plan for the money would be paying off his student loans. But he's not getting that far ahead of himself just yet.
"I'm amazed that I'm sitting here at 43 straight and wouldn't be surprised if this ended before 57," he said after Monday night's game.
But so far his picks have been on point. He said he picked the Reds' Joey Votto on Monday because the slugger had good numbers against Mets starter Shaun Marcum, and on Sunday he went against his preference to avoid picking Boston or New York players by going with Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
In making 44 straight successful picks, Brown has called on a player from his hometown team 59 percent of the time. Cabrera has made the biggest contributions, collecting streak-continuing knocks 19 times. Prince Fielder has left his mark as well, keeping Brown alive on six occasions. Torii Hunter has also chipped in, coming through during his one and only opportunity to assist.
As an interesting historic side note, the longest single-season hitting streaks in National League history were put up by the Reds' Pete Rose (1978) and the Orioles' Willie Keeler (1897), who each tallied a hit in 44 straight contests during their respective campaigns.
Fans interested in joining the fun can do so for free, 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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.