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Batter up: iPhone apps to help you enjoy the 2012 MLB playoffs

by Dan Kricke

Spring and summer have come and gone, and after 162 grueling games, it was another exciting baseball season full of drama right down to the end. Will the Oakland A's be able to continue their fairytale run? Will the Washington Nationals bring home a title to the nation's capital? More tension and excitement is on the way as the playoffs get underway and the nights get colder. We've compiled a list of some of the best apps to help you enjoy the 2012 baseball playoffs to the fullest.

The MLB.com At Bat app should be first and foremost for any serious baseball fan in their app arsenal. Buyer beware, as the app isn’t actually free (it’s either a $15 flat fee for the entire season including spring training and playoffs, or $2.99 per month) but it’s well worth the price of admission. Live streaming radio broadcasts of nearly every game all season long complement customized team-specific news pages, easily available stats and MLB.TV connectivity. You can even purchase tickets via the app.

As cool as the streaming radio feature of At Bat is, it’s not always appropriate to slap on your headphones and enjoy the sounds of your favorite broadcasters. If you need to be more discreet, SportCaster can keep you up-to-date on all the goings-on in your favorite game. The app collects all the tweets and news about the sport you’re interested in and presents it to you in real time. You no longer have to follow a bunch of different beat writers on Twitter to find out the scoop. Instead, you can jump into SportCaster and read a steady stream on the important games of the day.

Fantasy general managers out there have a number a great mobile apps to choose from to coordinate drafts and update rosters on the fly. The just updated Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball '12 has everything you need. The free app lets you view team, league and player stats at any time. The app also includes breaking news alerts and the ability to trade off that information.

If you’re more concerned with stats and analytics, the FanGraphs Baseball app is a must-have. Although the App Store says it hasn’t updated since 2010, it promises to  incorporate all the live data from the 2012 season as it occurs. With FanGraphs you’ll be able to track every play of every game along with graphs that analyze the critical situations that occur throughout each one. You can even see the salary history and current contract value for every player in the Major Leagues.

But maybe you’re more into TMZ than OBP. For the rumor-mongering baseball fan, there’s Baseball Trade Rumors. BTR is the app wing of the excellent MLBTradeRumors.com website. With Baseball Trade Rumors you can track news on specific players, teams, or even just see the live news feed as it updates with the latest stories from around the league. It’s a truly comprehensive collection of reporting that will keep you as up-to-date as possible on any brewing player movement news.

For fans that need a video game fix, the quirky Baseball Superstars 2012 is back for another season. This game has been a great mix of RPG-style leveling-up and fun arcade baseball action for a few seasons now. The 2012 offering ups the ante with improved visuals and “super players” that can be added to teams for a special boost when you really need to win a game. While the more fantastical elements of Baseball Superstars threaten to alienate hardcore baseball fans, there’s a truly fun game at its core that’s worth checking out, at least for a few innings.