The 30 Linchpin Players of 2014

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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