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Friday, June 11, 2010
Baseball Challenge Week 11

By AJ Mass
ESPN.com

Welcome back for Week 11 of the Baseball Challenge. It seems that sometimes, you simply can't catch a break. I finally decide to blow some of my budget on a few superstars and Alex Rodriguez rewards me by injuring his groin and getting the dreaded day-to-day status. Not only that, but Albert Pujols finished the first half of Week 10 with fewer points than Jason Donald. In a word: Ugh!

However, this futility goes a long way toward proving the wisdom of that age-old axiom of fantasy sports -- it's all about the numbers and not the names. To try to put that theory to the test in a hardcore fashion, we're going shopping in the bargain basement this week. No position player in our lineup will be worth more than 4.1 market value. What have we got to lose? Apparently, less and less each week, as the tale of the tape reports sadly:

Points through games of Thursday, June 10: 2,432; Rank: 44,952; Percentile: 45.9

Disappointing, underperforming veterans? We've got them! Rookies looking to make a household name for themselves? We've got those, too! Role players hoping to make the most of their at-bats? Yes, plenty of those as well. There's something for everyone in Week 11.

Here then, in all its glory, is the Week 11 Baseball Challenge lineup. Hurry on down, because supplies are limited!

AJ's Week 11 lineup for June 14-20

C: Kelly Shoppach, Tampa Bay Rays (@ATL-3, @FLA-3), 3.0 market price: Since returning from the disabled list, Shoppach has hit safely in three of five games. Although John Jaso is shining, Dioner Navarro is on the decline offensively. Expect Shoppach to get enough at-bats, especially with runners on base, to make some impact.

1B: Todd Helton, Colorado Rockies (@MIN-3, MIL-3), 3.8: Hopefully the move to the No. 2 spot in the lineup, ahead of Troy Tulowitzki, will be the linchpin to getting Helton back on track and closer to his .357 lifetime average at home, as opposed to the .200 he's currently calling a batting average.

2B: Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates (CHW-3, CLE-3), 4.0: He's not making the same waves as Buster Posey, but Walker's .400 on-base percentage in his first 15 games isn't too far off the mark. A handful of stolen bases is a nice cherry on top for Walker's owners as well.

3B: Nick Punto, Minnesota Twins (COL-3, @PHI-3), 3.0: With J.J. Hardy's injury sending him to the disabled list, expect a healthy dose of Punto at second base for Minnesota. The steady playing time should be a boon for Punto, who raised his batting average 24 points during the past week.

SS: Rafael Furcal, Los Angeles Dodgers (@CIN-3, @BOS-3), 4.1: Since returning from his hamstring woes, Furcal has had six multi-hit games and is hitting .360 in his past seven games. For the current price, and at this position, he's a steal who won't remain this good a bargain too much longer.

LF: Chris Heisey, Cincinnati Reds (LAD-3, @SEA-3), 3.9: Heisey got a start this past week, and with the Reds needing an extra bat in Seattle, it should be the strong fastball-hitting outfielder who gets the call from Dusty Baker.

CF: Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees (PHI-3, NYM-3), 3.7: There have still been more bad days than good, as Granderson is in the midst of a 2-for-15 streak, but I'm hoping the "Granderslam" was just the tip of the iceberg for the oft-injured Yankees outfielder to turn things around.

RF: Roger Bernadina, Washington Nationals (@DET-3, CHW-3), 4.0: Lost in all the hubbub over a certain rookie phenom pitcher is the fact that Bernadina is hitting .370 in June and is providing plenty of excitement of his own to the Washington crowd.

DH: Gerardo Parra, Arizona Diamondbacks (@BOS-3, @DET-3), 3.0: Parra is slugging .415 as a starter and only .214 when he comes in off the bench. With six games where a DH is on the Diamondbacks to-do list, Parra may well be the biggest beneficiary of the interleague calendar.

Pitching staff: Cleveland Indians (NYM-3, @PIT-3), 3.7: Three games against a team that seemingly can't win or hit on the road. Then the Indians get one of the worst hitting lineups in all of baseball. There are few weeks when it makes sense to look the Tribe's way for pitching prowess, but this is definitely one of those rare occasions.

Total salary: 36.2 million, 13.8 remaining

Week 11 Crib Sheet

Home Cooking -- No worries for David Ortiz, as his team is one of the few American League squads not needing to worry about their pitchers swinging a bat this week. Here's the complete list of non-traveling teams for Week 11: Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Florida Marlins, Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and San Diego Padres.

Frequent Flyers -- Time to sit Hank Blalock, but this may be an opportunity for a role player like Joe Inglett to get a few extra licks in. Here are your suitcase toters for the next seven days of play: Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics, Rays, Texas Rangers, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets.

Lucky Sevens -- Every major league team has one day off in Week 11, so every player is on a level playing field as far as opportunity for action.

AJ Mass is a fantasy baseball, football and college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. You can follow AJ on Twitter or e-mail him here.