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Insider

The 30 Linchpin Players of 2014

Starlin Castro, Xander Bogaerts and Victor Martinez will have to play key roles for their teams in 2014. Getty Images

The Cardinals would love for a strong season from Matt Adams, but you know what? If he requires more time to settle in as a regular, they’ve got enough other parts to win without a big contribution from the first baseman. The same could be said for Ryan Zimmerman; the Nationals don’t have to have a big season from him, and the Giants probably aren’t banking on a Cy Young-caliber season from Tim Lincecum.

But beyond the obvious stars, like a Miguel Cabrera, Adam Wainwright or Mike Trout, each of the 30 teams has a player whose performance will be most pivotal.

Presenting: The linchpin players of 2014:

Arizona Diamondbacks: Miguel Montero. They greatly value him, and they’re paying him to be a key part of their lineup. When he didn’t hit last season, it really, really hurt; he must be an effective complement to Paul Goldschmidt.

Atlanta Braves: Justin Upton. The Braves could