National League Central
|Sport||Major League Baseball|
|No. of teams|
|Most recent champion(s)|
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 today 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. Since then, the Pirates have tried several times unsuccessfully to be placed back in the East.
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. 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.
- Chicago Cubs - Founding member; formerly of the NL East
- Cincinnati Reds - Founding member; formerly of the NL West
- Milwaukee Brewers - Joined in 1998; formerly of the AL Central
- Pittsburgh Pirates - Founding member; formerly of the NL East
- St. Louis Cardinals - Founding member; formerly of the NL East
Place cursor over year for division champ or World Series team.
|NL Central Division[A]|
|St. Louis Cardinals|
|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
- Team names link to the season in which each team played
|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||Lost NLCS to San Francisco, 4-1|
* - The Astros and Cardinals finished with identical regular season records. Due to the fact that the Astros edged the Cardinals in head-to-head games, 9-7, they were awarded the National League Central division title, and the Cardinals were designated as winners of the National League Wild Card.
National League Championships
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.
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, all of the NL Central teams have won the wild card.
|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|
|2014||Pittsburgh Pirates**||88–74||.543||2||Lost NLWC to San Francisco|
† - 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
|Current Teams in Division:|
|St. Louis Cardinals||9||1996, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2014|
|Cincinnati Reds||3||1995, 2010, 2012|
|Chicago Cubs||3||2003, 2007, 2008|
|Former Teams in Division:|
|Houston Astros||4||1997, 1998, 1999, 2001*|
* - Via tiebreaker
- National League East
- National League West
- American League East
- American League Central
- American League West
- "Starkey: Pirates in American League' Yes!". TribLIVE.com. 16 June 2011. Retrieved 1 October 2014.