5 Apps to Take Out to The Ballgame

PORTLAND, Ore. ( TheStreet) -- The 2013 Major League Baseball season has begun and fans' wallets are all the lighter for it. Fortunately, smartphones and tablets can help prevent some of the loss.

While we've tried to present evidence baseball is the cheapest professional sport in the land, teams keep hiking beer prices and ticket costs seemingly just to prove us wrong. So why aren't fans running for their high-definition television shelters?

Basically because baseball is one of the few sports that's figured out how to enhance the live game experience through technology instead of using that technology to make live games obsolete. Also, do you see how many games there are on the schedule? Even if games against a rival are sold out and going for exorbitant sums on the secondary market, there's always that midsummer stretch of games against cellar-dwellers or late-season games when either the playoff picture is set or all hope is lost. Baseball's free market takes, but every so often it gives as demand wanes.

If you want to see just how much advances in mobile technology have developed around the game, just cruise through the dozens of baseball-related apps. Amid baseball's tech exoskeleton of stats and streaming video, we found the five most essential baseball apps of the 2013 season. These apps all come up big around game time, even if your team's fortunes are looking increasingly small:

MLB.com At Bat

Platform: Apple ( AAPL) iOS and Google ( GOOG) Android, Research In Motion Blackberry Z10, Amazon Kindle Fire

Price: Free to $19.99

The cost of the all-inclusive version of this app jumped $5 from last year, but this is a league that charges an average of $6.12 per beer, so what did you expect? At least that $20 buys you pitch-by-pitch updates, video highlights from games in progress and live radio broadcasts to go with free At Bat Lite content such as scores, news from MLB.com, schedules, rosters, and team standings. For that extra five bucks, this year's updates include a free MLB.TV game of the day, closed-captioning and a classic games video library. Want a better deal? Download MLB's free At The Ballpark app and get a directory of your local ballpark, team schedule and ticket info, full concourse maps, concessions menus and -- for Miami Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks, Philadelphia Phillies, New York Mets and Houston Astros fans -- mobile food and beverage ordering.

Fantasy Monster Pro

Platform: iOS and Android

Price: $4.99

We know your Yahoo/ESPN/CBSSportsline fantasy league has its own app, but do they let you check all your fantasy league teams at once? Regardless of site? Sure, Fantasy Monster Pro will let you change lineups, check scores, trade players, check match-ups, view standings and rosters and read player news, but it makes that $4.99 worth your while by allowing you to use the app for fantasy football, basketball and hockey seasons, too.

Fan Misery

Platform: iOS

Price: $1 for one team, $3 for all teams

Before heading out to the ballpark, sometimes it pays to take the temperature of the room to see if it's worth the trip. Headlines, talk radio and the win-loss column offer a hint, but the collective game day experience is what separates a crowd that's despondent but hopeful from one for which every run from the opposing team adds to the stadium's increasingly disgruntled din. For fans who want to know if they'll be diving for home runs or dodging tossed beers, Fan Misery uses a range of metrics to gauge the collective mood of each team's fan base and presents its assessment as a weather forecast. By combining hitting and pitching stats and the cost of beer at the concession stand (because expensive yellow fizz always dampens the mood) with results from in-app polls, Fan Misery determines if the fan base is weathering the storm or if gloomier days are ahead. While the apps creators have tailored versions especially for the New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., markets, fans of just about every team in pro sports can use it to see just how fans feel about the latest losing streak, steroid scandal, salary-dumping trade or scary rumor that the team may move if it doesn't get a new facility paid for by their taxes.

GameChanger Baseball Scoring

Platform: iOS and Android

Price: Free or $7.99 a month/$39.99 a year for premium access.

So you can't fill out a scorecard as well as the guy behind you with the golf pencil and reading glasses who's kept score in the same seat since before you were born. GameChanger doesn't care and helps out newbies with tutorials and touchscreen scoring. You can also make your scoring public so friends online can compare or to show folks at home how your kid's college team fared during a weekend tournament or what you're scoring that disputed call they're watching at home. For that extra $7.99 a month, subscribers get live play updates, game replay, in-game alerts and updated recap stories, stats and charts.

FanGraphs Baseball

Platform: iOS

Price: 99 cents

Forget that Fan in the title. Remember Moneyball, Billy Beane and the Sabermetric/stat-driven approach to improving the game? That's the kind of fan you need to be to get a complete grasp of what FanGraphs Baseball can do. The app has live box scores each game, lifetime stats for every player from 1974 to present and real-time win probability graphs based on in-game action. The minor league stats and salary data are neat throw-ins, but the inclusion of baseball stat godfather Bill James' 2013 Handbook Projections make this the holy grail of OPS, WAR, UZR, WHIP and all of those other stat-sheet acronyms changing the game.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.