Cincinnati Reds' Top Five Essential Players for 2009

Scott BirchfieldCorrespondent IMarch 13, 2009

On every team, all 25 players are expected to perform. However, there are certain players that expected to perform at a higher level. Here are the top five essential players for the Cincinnati Reds.

5. Ramon Hernandez

Hernandez was a major pickup for the Reds during the offseason. He solidifies a position that has been a question mark for years.

If Hernandez can have a good 2009 season, the Reds will get better quickly. Hernandez is solid offensively and defensively, and he should help a talented young pitching staff as well.

4. Brandon Phillips

After a wonderful 2007 season, Phillips fell back to earth a bit in 2008. His average, home runs, and stolen bases were all down substantially.

The Reds need Phillips to have a comeback season. A return to his 30-30 form of 2007 would definitely take the pressure off Jay Bruce and Joey Votto. The Reds are hoping this happens.

3. Fransisco Cordero

For any team hoping to make big strides, they must have a quality closer. Cordero fits that description, and he had a solid 2008 season.

He will need to have an encore for the Reds to be successful. The Reds have a good starting rotation. David Weathers and Fransisco Cordero need to nail down some wins at the back end of the bullpen.

2. Aaron Harang

Harang had a terrible 2008 season. He went from a two-time, 16-game winner to a 6-17 starter. Harang still has talent, but he needs to have a huge comeback year to help the Reds in 2009.

Harang needs to step up to take some of the pressure off the young starters, Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto. A repeat of his 2008 season might lead the Reds back to mediocrity, or worse.

1. Jay Bruce

Bruce, Volquez, and Cueto are the Reds' franchise players. Jay Bruce had a tremendous start to his big league career. That was soon followed by a slump that dropped his average around the .250 mark.

After a full spring training, Bruce is ready to have a monster year for the Reds. He has the potential of being a great player for this franchise. Even though he will only be 22 on opening day, the Reds are expecting a lot from this talented young man.