By Jason Notte
The Street

The 2012 Major League Baseball season is costing fans a bundle in ticket and beer money, but smartphones and tablets are two places where fans can slide under the tag a bit.

Teams have a hand in fans' wallets the minute they step to the ticket counter, but free and low-cost apps for stat geeks, fantasy baseball freaks and fickle game watchers make it a bit easier to enjoy the game without dumping a truckload of money onto the field. It's also an incredibly long season that has almost five full months left to go, which makes an app purchase a huge value.

We went flipping through the various app stores and found the most essential baseball apps of the 2012 season. These apps are all top contenders for your time and money this season, even if your team isn't:

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