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Friday, June 17, 2011
Baseball Challenge: Week 12 preview

By Mike Sheets
Special to ESPN.com

Whether you're a fan of interleague play or not, and whether or not you're in favor of the new MLB realignment proposal, which would essentially make interleague play a season-long event, there's no getting around the fact that interleague play affects fantasy baseball. And that's especially true in the coming weeks. Yes, we've already seen interleague play this season, but not to this extent. The upcoming interleague stretch begins Friday and doesn't end until early July.

Of course, this is something BBC owners need to consider when setting their weekly lineups. This week, Vladimir Guerrero, David Ortiz, Bobby Abreu, Victor Martinez, Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada are just some of the players who could lose playing time. Someone like V-Mart likely will sit only a game or two, but at this point of the Baseball Challenge, with only three weeks remaining in the first segment, every game counts. Each team's schedule has to be taken into consideration.

One final note: For the next three weeks, I'm giving myself permission to use the same player two weeks in a row if the mood strikes me. As we discussed last week, at this point it's more important to try to build the most productive lineup than worry about holding onto the players who you locked in at bargain prices. All salaries reset after Week 14, so it's now or never.

With that in mind, here's a look at our Week 12 lineup:

Week 12 Lineup for June 20 through June 26

C: Yorvit Torrealba, Texas Rangers (HOU-3, NYM-3), 4.0 market price: I'm trying to save cap space at catcher, but Torrealba has certainly been earning his keep of late. While the power has been sparse, he's batting .378 so far in June, including .400 over the past week. Plus, at 4.0, the price is right.

1B: Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays (@ATL-3, @STL-3), 5.4 market price: Lind just continues to hit. Over 106 April at-bats, he batted .274 with four home runs. However, in 60 combined at-bats between May and June (he spent some time on the DL), he's hitting .453 with 10 dingers. This is a guy you want in your lineup right now.

2B: Chase Utley, Philadelphia Phillies (@STL-3, OAK-3), 5.5 market price: At this market price, Utley is still a bargain. The thing is, he's starting to hit like the Utley of old. He's been the No. 2 BBC second baseman over the past two weeks, and he's the top dog over the last week, hitting .391 with seven extra-base hits, including two homers, and eight RBIs.

3B: Scott Rolen, Cincinnati Reds (NYY-3, @BAL-3), 4.4 market price: Rolen gets the nod here mainly because of his price tag, but he still offers plenty of bang for your buck. Entering Thursday, he had been a top-four third baseman over the past week, hitting .304 with six extra-base hits.

SS: J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles (@PIT-3, CIN-3), 4.4 market price: I'm sticking with Hardy this week, because, frankly, I don't have a good reason to go with anyone else. He's super cheap, ranking 19th at the position, yet he continues to tear the cover off the ball, hitting .404 with five homers in June, including batting .393 with two home runs over the past week.

LF: Michael Morse, Washington Nationals (SEA-3, @CWS-3), 4.3 market price: Morse, another repeat from last week, refuses to slow down. He's been the top left fielder for the past month, racking up 20 more points than his nearest competitor (Ryan Braun). After finishing April with a .224 batting average and one just homer, Morse is now hitting .311 with 12 dingers, which tells you just how hot he's been over the last month and a half.

CF: Angel Pagan, New York Mets (OAK-3, @TEX-3), 4.1 market price: There are certainly more qualified center-field options than Pagan. That said, the Mets outfielder fits under the salary cap nicely, and he offers solid production for the price. Pagan has been a top-three center fielder over the past seven days, hitting .346 with a homer and six RBIs.

RF: Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota Twins (@SF-3, @MIL-3), 4.8 market price: No right fielder has out-produced Cuddyer over the last 15 days. He's batting .340 over that span with four home runs and 13 RBIs. And considering he's not even one of the 20 most expensive options at the position, he's hard to pass up.

DH: Billy Butler, Kansas City Royals (ARI-3, CHC-3), 6.5 market price: There's one simple reason why Butler makes the cut this week: The Royals are at home all week, meaning we don't have to worry about him sitting like we do other DHs visiting NL parks. Not only that, but Butler has been the second most productive DH over the last two weeks behind only David Ortiz, hitting .340 with three homers and 11 RBIs.

Pitching Staff: Milwaukee Brewers (TB-3, MIN-3), 6.4 market price: The Brewers are just 5-5 in their past 10 games, but they face the Twins, who sport the worst record in the American League, as well as the Rays, a team that has scored just 47 runs so far in June, which ranks 27th in baseball.

Total Salary: $49.8 million, $0.2 remaining

Scouting Schedules

Note: A ballpark that ranked top-10 in terms of home runs last year is considered hitter-friendly, while the bottom-10 parks are pitcher-friendly. In order to be listed below, a team must have two series at hitter-friendly venues, or two at pitcher-friendly parks.

Hitter-friendly schedules: Milwaukee Brewers, Cincinnati Reds, New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers.

Pitcher-friendly schedules: San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, San Diego Padres, Pittsburgh Pirates, Florida Marlins, St. Louis Cardinals.

Seven-Day Workweeks: No team plays seven games this week.