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Friday, July 15, 2011
Baseball Challenge: Prince Fielder returns to site of All-Star success

By AJ Mass
ESPN.com

Didn't we just do this? I guess we'll just have to deal with this annual quirk of the major league schedule which forces us to set our second lineup of Segment 2 before we've barely seen any action take place with the one we just set on Wednesday.

Sure, the wisest move might well be to just "let it ride" with the top dogs we selected just 48 hours ago, and if I was in your shoes, I'd probably be tempted to do just that. However, rather than take the easy way out and submit an article that reads simply, "Ditto," I'm going to instead give you a complete new slate of players who have a favorable week's worth of scheduled games ahead.

So, lo and behold, we present to you the Week 16 lineup:

Week 16 lineup for July 18-24

C: Brian McCann, Atlanta Braves (@COL-4, @CIN-3), 4.8 market price: McCann is hitting a healthy .300 on the road this season. Not only that, but he's also gone 10-for-20 in 2011 versus his two opponents for the week, including a pair of home runs versus the Cincinnati Reds. As a catcher, he may not play all seven games, but I'll take five games at that clip.

1B: Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers (@ARI-4, @SF-3), 5.2 market price: Fielder has a lifetime batting average of .327 at AT&T Park and has homered at Chase Field in four of the past five series he's played there. After watching the All-Star game festivities and all the blasting power he displayed, I certainly expect Fielder to make it five out of his past six series.

2B: Dustin Ackley, Seattle Mariners (@TOR-3, @BOS-3), 4.3 market price: In his first 21 games in the majors, Ackley has impressed, with an .853 OPS. Fenway Park and the Rogers Centre are two of the three easiest parks in which to get hits according to ESPN's Park Factor, so I expect a lot of offense, for once, from the Mariners.

3B: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays (NYY-4, @KC-3), 4.7 market price: There's no question that Longoria has struggled this season, but the hope is that some time off will prevent him from continuing to suffer the ill-effects of his foot injury. He has a career batting average of .329 against the Kansas City Royals, so that should also help shake the slump.

SS: Stephen Drew, Arizona Diamondbacks (MIL-4, COL-3), 4.5 market price: Drew has 13 home runs and 44 RBIs lifetime against these two opponents, so while he's certainly not performed well at home in 2011 (.231 versus .289 on the road), here's hoping the break recharged his batteries enough to make this pick pay off. Fingers crossed.

LF: Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies (ATL-4, @ARI-3), 4.8 market price: The badly bruised wrist certainly makes this a risky selection, but hopefully after playing sparingly in this weekend's games, he'll be given a green light for Week 16. He's hitting .361 in nine games against the Diamondbacks this season, with three homers, so even if he misses some of the Atlanta series, we could still come out ahead. If his status gets worse over the next few days, we can always jump ship.

CF: Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees (@TB-4, OAK-3), 5.4 market price: Granderson has produced both home and away this season, with an almost 50-50 split in terms of where he's hit his home runs. Although the batting average hasn't been pretty (.152 vs. this week's foes) we're banking this pick on the fact the outfielder has homered off both these staffs already in 2011 and that lightning strikes twice ... or more.

RF: Hunter Pence, Houston Astros (WAS-3, @CHC-3), 4.8 market price: Pence is batting .385 in July and with trade rumors swirling, this may be his chance to put up some gaudy numbers in an attempt to convince the Philadelphia Phillies to pull the trigger on a deal. In six games against the Chicago Cubs in 2011, Pence has an OPS of 1.121, and he gets them at home where he is hitting .346 for the year.

DH: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox (@BAL-3, SEA-3), 5.0 market price: Ortiz may not have won the Home Run Derby, or even made the final round, but he certainly showed Big Papi still has some pop left. He's batting .355 versus the Baltimore Orioles this season, and then gets the Seattle Mariners at home, where he's hitting .335 in 2011.

Pitching Staff: Florida Marlins (@NYM-1, SD-3. NYM-3), 5.7 market price: Anibal Sanchez will go twice, the San Diego Padres are last in the National League in hitting (.231) and the New York Mets are still going to be missing the left side of their infield, if not more -- Carlos Beltran may or may not be headed elsewhere. With an 8-3 record in July so far, this may be the time to get on board with this squad before they start to sell off parts themselves.

Total Salary: $49.2 million, $0.8 remaining

AJ Mass is a fantasy baseball, football and college basketball analyst for ESPN.com. His book, "How Fantasy Sports Explains the World" will be released in August. You can e-mail him here.

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