National League Central
|Sport||Major League Baseball|
|No. of teams||5|
|Most recent NL Central champion(s)||Chicago Cubs
|Most NL Central titles||St. Louis Cardinals (10)|
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 ten of the 21 division championships, plus three wild card wins. Aside from the Cardinals, the Astros and Cubs have the most division championships with four, as well as two wild card wins each. The Reds have three division titles, along with one wild card win. The Brewers have one divisional championship, with one wild card win. The Pirates have not won the division since the division was created, but possesses three wild card wins. The 2013 win was the team's 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 - Since 1998; formerly of the AL East, 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
Champions by year
- Team names link to the season in which each team played
|1994||No playoffs due to 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike§|
|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 (2)||102–60||.630||Lost NLDS to San Diego, 3–1|
|1999||Houston Astros (3)||97–65||.599||Lost NLDS to Atlanta, 3–1|
|2000||St. Louis Cardinals (2)||95–67||.586||Lost NLCS to New York, 4–1|
|2001*||Houston Astros (4)||93–69||.574||Lost NLDS to Atlanta, 3–0|
|2002||St. Louis Cardinals (3)||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 (4)||105–57||.648||Lost World Series to Boston, 4–0|
|2005||St. Louis Cardinals (5)||100–62||.617||Lost NLCS to Houston, 4–2|
|2006||St. Louis Cardinals (6)||83–78||.516||Won World Series over Detroit, 4–1|
|2007||Chicago Cubs (2)||85–77||.525||Lost NLDS to Arizona, 3–0|
|2008||Chicago Cubs (3)||97–64||.602||Lost NLDS to Los Angeles, 3–0|
|2009||St. Louis Cardinals (7)||91–71||.562||Lost NLDS to Los Angeles, 3–0|
|2010||Cincinnati Reds (2)||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 (3)||97–65||.599||Lost NLDS to San Francisco, 3–2|
|2013||St. Louis Cardinals (8)||97–65||.599||Lost World Series to Boston, 4–2|
|2014||St. Louis Cardinals (9)||90–72||.556||Lost NLCS to San Francisco, 4-1|
|2015||St. Louis Cardinals (10)||100–62||.617||Lost NLDS to Chicago, 3–1|
|2016||Chicago Cubs (4)||TBD||TBD|
* – The Astros and Cardinals finished with identical regular season records. Because 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 introduced in 1994 and was initially assigned to the team with the best record in each league that did not win its division. The first year of implementation was 1995 as a player strike prematurely ended the 1994 season. Since implementation, each NL Central teams has won the wild card. In 2012, a second wild card was added to post-season play.
|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|
|2015||Pittsburgh Pirates**||98–64||.605||2||Lost NLWC to Chicago|
|Chicago Cubs**||97–65||.599||3||Lost NLCS to New York, 4–0|
† – 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
|St. Louis Cardinals||10||1996, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015|
|Houston Astros||4||1997, 1998, 1999, 2001*|
|Chicago Cubs||4||2003, 2007, 2008, 2016|
|Cincinnati Reds||3||1995, 2010, 2012|
* – Via tiebreaker over St. Louis
Italics indicates former division member
- 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.