1. Joey Votto
Votto, when healthy, is a premium talent an offense can be built around. He's not Pujols, but, hey, who is? In fact, a reasonable case could be made that he's just about as valuable to the Reds as anyone not named after a body piercing and an English prince is to the rest of the league. He's probably not as good as his numbers right now would indicate, but he's at least a 900 OPS bat and that's one more of those than almost anyone thought the Reds would have.
2. Johnny Cueto
Cueto, when right, is a legitimate ace. He's been one of the 10 best NL starters almost all season, and, aside from a late fade, should have been one of two Red All Stars. And remember, he's still only 23.
3. Aaron Harang
Harang looks solid. Maybe he's not the top of the rotation everyone but Keith Law saw two years ago, but he's been well above average most of the season. His ERA is good (3.83) and the rest of his periphials look pretty solid as well. At this point in his career, it looks like he's a good #3 starter for any rotation in baseball, capable of supplying 200+ innings and a 115 or better ERA+.
4. Francisco Cordero
Cordero's been really good. I don't know if he's All Star good, but, hey, I don't make up the lists. This should do nothing but help his trade value. He's got another couple years on his deal, but, for two years now, he's been a really good pitcher despite that huge contract. Perhaps a team that needs late inning help (hint, hint New York) and has deep pockets will see that.
5. Micah Owings
Owings is a legitimate fifth starter. And, what's more, he's fun to watch. Frustrating, too. He walks far too many, K's too few, but somehow finds a way to get out of it. None of this mentions a potent bat that's been responsible for at least a couple Cincinnati victories and adds to both his effectiveness and fascination.
6. Homer Bailey
Bailey's shown signs of dominance. Since learning and using the split finger, Bailey's been very promising. If he can find the strike zone consistently, Bailey's a guy who has ace stuff. At this point, while not an ace, he is a good bet to be a legitimate fourth or fifth starter with just as many good games as poor ones. Perhaps more. More importantly, however, is that he's learning his craft and showing progress. As 2009 turns into 2010, Bailey becomes someone the Reds can count on rather than question.
7. Nick Masset, Carlos Fisher, Danny Ray Herrera, Josh Roenicke, et al.
At the beginning of the season, one of my chief complaits was the lack of trust in the AAA relievers. Due to injuries and ineffectiveness, they've been thrust into the big leagues as the season's gone on and, while the statistical analysis may be difficult to discern, they have shown promise. The AAA guys have been of help to the pen. Masset's been the most effective reliever on the team. Fisher clearly belongs and has the stuff to do well either as a middle reliever or, later on, as perhaps a seventh or set-up man. Herrera shows great promise as a LOOGY (and is a great story), and Roenicke seems solid as well. Each should see their roles expanded next season, as Rhodes and Weathers get older (though both have been more than effective over the course of the first half). In short, with these four, an effective Burton and perhaps another AAA reliever (Viola?), the Reds could have a good and effective six-person pen next season for less than half what they're paying Cordero now.
8. Minors Matter
Stubbs and Heisey in AAA, Wood, Stewart, and Frazier in AA. A case could be made for Alonso in A+. All saw great improvement this season and took major steps toward the majors in half a season. Both Wood and Stewart have given ace-like numbers in AA and provide depth or trade bait. Stubbs and Heisey play one of two positions the Reds need help at most desperately. Frazier can play either 3B or LF, two positions Cincinnati could need help at soon. All upped their stock this year.
9. Chris Dickerson
While neither Jocketty nor Baker believed, Dickerson's not a mirage. No one thought he'd be as good as he was at the end of 2008. But he's shown he's league average offensively, and, with an ability to play three OF positions well, above average overall. As we roll on to the rest of the season, look for Dickerson to get more playing time, cementing his status as either a starter (and solid leadoff or #2 hitter) or quality back-up. Either way, the Reds now know he's got the goods, as it were.
10. The Catching Duo of Hernandez and Hanigan
At the beginning of the season, Ryan Hanigan and Ramon Hernandez were considered below average offensively and defensively. Between them, they've shown Cincinnati fans the best catching tandem since Joe Nolan and Alan Knicely. Hanigan in particular has shined, hitting very well and playing Gold Glove level defense behind the plate. This should allow Jocketty and company to shop for a back-up catcher next season and make Hanigan the Manigan.