National League Central

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NL Central
League National League
Sport Major League Baseball
Founded 1994
No. of teams
Most recent champion(s) (9th title)
Most titles (9)

The National League Central is one of Major League Baseball's six divisions. This division was created in 1994, by moving two teams from the National League West (the Cincinnati Reds and the Houston Astros) and three teams from the National League East (the Chicago Cubs, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the St. Louis Cardinals).

When the division was created in 1994, the Pirates were originally supposed to stay in the East while the Atlanta Braves were to be moved to the Central from the West. However, the Braves, wanting to form a natural rivalry with the expansion Florida Marlins (a rivalry that as of 2013 has yet to develop, largely due to the Marlins being noncompetitive except for their two World Series-winning seasons), requested to be moved to the East instead. Despite the Marlins offering to go to the Central, the Pirates instead gave up its spot in the East to the Braves.[1] Since then, the Pirates have tried several times unsuccessfully to be placed back in the East.[2]

In 1998, the NL Central became the largest division in Major League Baseball when the Milwaukee Brewers were moved in from the American League Central. In 2013, the Astros (the only team in the division that seemed mismatched geographically) moved to the American League West.

This division has been dominated by the Cardinals, who have accounted for nine of the twenty division championships, plus three "wild cards." Aside from the Cardinals, the Astros have the next most division championships with four, as well as two wild card wins. The Cubs and Reds, who have both also have won the wild card once, are tied with three division titles, while the Brewers have one, with one wild card win. The Pirates have not won the division since the division was created, although they were in contention in 1997, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. Pittsburgh, however, does have two wild card wins, finally winning in 2013 which clinched their first playoff berth since 1992.

Division membership[edit]

Current members[edit]

Former members[edit]

Division lineups[edit]

Place cursor over year for division champ or World Series team.

Years
NL Central Division[A]
94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Chicago Cubs
Cincinnati Reds
St. Louis Cardinals
Pittsburgh Pirates
  Milwaukee Brewers[B]
Houston Astros[C]  
     Team not in division      Division Won World Series      Division Won NL Championship
A Creation of division due to the 1994 realignment into three divisions (with Chicago, Pittsburgh and St. Louis from NL East, and Cincinnati and Houston from NL West)
B Milwaukee switched leagues due to the 1998 expansion, moving in from AL Central
C Houston switched leagues and joined the AL West

NL Central Division regular season champions[edit]

  • Team names link to the season in which each team played
Year Winner Record % Playoffs
1995 Cincinnati Reds 85–59 .590 Lost NLCS to Atlanta, 4–0
1996 St. Louis Cardinals 88–74 .543 Lost NLCS to Atlanta, 4–3
1997 Houston Astros 84–78 .519 Lost NLDS to Atlanta, 3–0
1998 Houston Astros 102–60 .630 Lost NLDS to San Diego, 3–1
1999 Houston Astros 97–65 .599 Lost NLDS to Atlanta, 3–1
2000 St. Louis Cardinals 95–67 .586 Lost NLCS to New York, 4–1
2001 Houston Astros 93–69 .574 Lost NLDS to Atlanta, 3–0
2002 St. Louis Cardinals 97–65 .599 Lost NLCS to San Francisco, 4–1
2003 Chicago Cubs 88–74 .543 Lost NLCS to Florida, 4–3
2004 St. Louis Cardinals 105–57 .648 Lost World Series to Boston, 4–0
2005 St. Louis Cardinals 100–62 .617 Lost NLCS to Houston, 4–2
2006 St. Louis Cardinals 83–78 .516 Won World Series over Detroit, 4–1
2007 Chicago Cubs 85–77 .525 Lost NLDS to Arizona, 3–0
2008 Chicago Cubs 97–64 .602 Lost NLDS to Los Angeles, 3–0
2009 St. Louis Cardinals 91–71 .562 Lost NLDS to Los Angeles, 3–0
2010 Cincinnati Reds 91–71 .562 Lost NLDS to Philadelphia, 3–0
2011 Milwaukee Brewers 96–66 .593 Lost NLCS to St. Louis, 4–2
2012 Cincinnati Reds 97–65 .599 Lost NLDS to San Francisco, 3–2
2013 St. Louis Cardinals 97–65 .599 Lost World Series to Boston, 4–2
2014 St. Louis Cardinals 90–72 .556

§ - Due to the 1994 Major League Baseball strike on August 12, no official winner was awarded. Cincinnati was leading at the time of the strike.
.

National League Championships[edit]

The division has produced five National League Pennant winners: St. Louis in 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2013, and Houston in 2005. In both 2004 and 2005 the American League Champions swept the World Series. The St. Louis Cardinals won the 2006 World Series in five games, won the 2011 World Series in seven games, and lost the 2013 World Series in six games.

Wild-card winners[edit]

The wild card was first introduced in 1994 and is the team in each league with the best record that did not win its division. The system, however, was not implemented until 1995, as a player strike prematurely ended the 1994 season. Since its implementation, four NL Central teams have won the wild card.

Year Winner Record % GB Playoffs
1998 Chicago Cubs* 90–73 .552 12.5 Lost NLDS to Atlanta, 3–0
2001 St. Louis Cardinals 93–69 .574 0 Lost NLDS to Arizona, 3–2
2004 Houston Astros 92–70 .568 13 Lost NLCS to St. Louis, 4–3
2005 Houston Astros 89–73 .549 11 Lost World Series to Chicago White Sox, 4–0
2008 Milwaukee Brewers 90–72 .556 7.5 Lost NLDS to Philadelphia, 3–1
2011 St. Louis Cardinals 90–72 .556 6 Won World Series over Texas, 4–3
2012 St. Louis Cardinals** 88–74 .543 9 Lost NLCS to San Francisco, 4–3
2013 Pittsburgh Pirates** 94–68 .580 3 Lost NLDS to St. Louis, 3–2
Cincinnati Reds** 90–72 .556 7 Lost NLWC to Pittsburgh, 6–2
2014 Pittsburgh Pirates** 88–74 .543 2

* - Defeated the San Francisco Giants in a one game playoff for the Wild Card, 5-3.

† - finished with the same record as the Houston Astros, but Houston won the season series vs. the Cardinals that year, and were given the higher seed in the playoffs.

** – Starting with the 2012 season, there will be two Wild Card winners in each league. The qualifiers will play a single-game playoff to determine who will face the top-seeded team in the National League Division Series.

NL Central titles won by team[edit]

Team Number of
Championship(s) Won
Years Won
Current Teams in Division:
St. Louis Cardinals 9 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2014
Chicago Cubs 3 2003, 2007, 2008
Cincinnati Reds 3 1995, 2010, 2012
Milwaukee Brewers 1 2011
Pittsburgh Pirates 0 --
Former Teams in Division:
Houston Astros 4 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]