Pittsburgh Pirates' Top Five Essential Players

Scott BirchfieldCorrespondent IApril 3, 2009

BRADENTON, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 22: Nate McLouth #13 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses during photo day at the Pirates spring training complex on February 22, 2008 in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

Every player on a major league roster is important. However, there are always players who are counted on more for their team's success. Here are the top five essential players for the Pittsburgh Pirates:

5. Matt Capps

The Pirates have many holes to fill on their roster. Closer is not one of them. Matt Capps has developed into a tremendous closer. If given more opportunities, he could be one of the best closers in all of Major League Baseball.

4. Adam LaRoche

The Pirates have limited power on offense. LaRoche is one of the few players on the team that provides power. The problem for LaRoche is that he doesn't usually get cranked up until June or July.

The Pirates need him to have a good full season. Another inconsistent year for LaRoche could spell doom early for The Pirates.

3. Freddy Sanchez

Sanchez is on this list mainly for leadership. The Pirates do not have a lot of leaders on this team. Sanchez needs to be the one to step up and guide the team when times are tough.

Sanchez can be a solid offensive player as well. His stats have been on the decline since his .344 average in 2006. A return to respectability on offense will help the Pirates turn the corner.

2. (three way tie)  Paul Maholm, Zach Duke, and Ian Snell

Needless to say, the Pirates starting rotation has been awful. Maholm is considered the ace of the staff and has shown flashes of brilliance. Duke and Snell have tremendous potential, but yet to come close to that potential.

For the Pirates to be competitive, these starters need to have good seasons. Even if one has a good season and the others struggle, it will be another long season for this franchise.

1. Nate McLouth

By far, McLouth is the most impressive player on the Pirates roster. His 2008 season was spectacular. He provided much needed power and speed to this team.

The Pirates need another good season from McLouth in 2009. If McLouth gets off to another good start, it might spur the other players to follow his example. Hopefully for the Pittsburgh Pirates, that happens.