NL Central
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NL Central
NL Central
League National League
Sport Major League Baseball
Founded 1994
No. of teams 5
Most recent NL Central champion(s) Chicago Cubs
(5th title)
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, requested to be moved to the East instead. Despite the Marlins offering to go to the Central, the Pirates instead gave up their 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 moved to the American League West.

This division has been dominated by the Cardinals, who have accounted for ten of the 23 division championships, plus three wild card wins. Aside from the Cardinals, the Cubs have the second most division championships with five, as well as two wild card wins. The Astros have four division titles and two wild card wins. 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 Pirates first playoff berth since 1992.

Division membership

Current members

Former member

Division lineups

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

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 after the 2012 season, and joined the AL West

Champions by year

  • Team names link to the season in which each team played
Year Winner Record Win% Playoffs
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) 103-58 .640 Won World Series over Cleveland, 4-3
2017 Chicago Cubs (5) 92-70 .568 Lost NLCS to Los Angeles, 4-1

§ - Due to the 1994-95 Major League Baseball strike on August 12, no official winner was awarded. Cincinnati was leading at the time of the strike.

* - 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 six National League Pennant winners: St. Louis in 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2013, Houston in 2005, and Chicago in 2016.

Wild-card winners

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 of the NL Central teams has won the wild card. In 2012, a second wild card was added to post-season play.

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
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

* - 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 are 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

Team Number of
Championship(s) Won
Years Won
St. Louis Cardinals 10 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015
Chicago Cubs 5 2003, 2007, 2008, 2016, 2017
Houston Astros 4 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001*
Cincinnati Reds 3 1995, 2010, 2012
Milwaukee Brewers 1 2011
Pittsburgh Pirates 0 --

* - Via tiebreaker over St. Louis
Italics indicates former division member

See also


  1. ^ Chass, Murray. "BASEBALL; Pirates Relent on New Alignment". Archived from the original on 24 August 2017. Retrieved 2018. 
  2. ^ "Starkey: Pirates in American League' Yes!". 16 June 2011. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 2014. 

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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