Written and Media by Austin Brinkman [divide]
The National League(NL) Central has been one of the most dominant divisions in the MLB over these last few years. Arguably, the most dominant team in this division has been the St. Louis Cardinals. In the past 20 years, the Cards have reached the National League Championship series(NLCS) an unbelievable ten times from 1996 to the 2000’s. Looking at the rest of the division, there is little doubt that the Cardinals have been dominant.
Here are some interesting facts: Since the Astors left in 2011, the teams in the NL Central are better than before with just the Cardinal, Cubs, Pirates, Brewers, and Reds. The only teams other than the Cardinals that have reached the NLCS in the last ten years are the 2003 Chicago Cubs who lost to the Florida Marlins that year. The 2011 Milwaukee Brewers ended up losing to the Cardinals that year in the NLCS.
The point I’m making here is that this division has always been tough. It has been shown to be truth this year. The NL Central is, in fact, the strongest division in baseball, top to bottom, with three legitimate World Series contenders and two teams that have every reason to believe they are at least .500 teams. If the Reds and Brewers were in the AL Central, they would be considered one of the potential favorites, wouldn’t they? If you think the division is good now, just wait a few years when the young talent of the Cubs and Pirates fully develops. This division will be a dogfight for the next decade and more. I, as a baseball fan, can’t wait for this to happen.
When asked in an interview by Ryan Fagan if Cardinal’s manager Mike Matheny would lead any “NLC! NLC! NLC!” chants, Matheny replied, “No” with a smile. “I’m not that excited that there are that many great teams in our division. Not surprised, though. Early on, we talked about how we knew that Chicago was for real and that they’re getting better. And we knew this team (the Pirates) weren’t going anywhere, and we were hoping we weren’t going anywhere either.”
We will continue with our look at the most compelling players in each division with the NL Central race. They are the best of the best with the most on the line in 2015. They are the ones who can change their team’s fortunes the most, the ones we can’t wait to watch, and the ones who just leap off the page. Some of these players are from the Cubs, such as Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant, who are the new stars of the reinvented Cubs. A few key players on the rise for the Pirates are Andrew McCutchen and A.J. Burnett. In St. Louis, Matt Carpenter and Jason Heyward have been the most dominate on their team this year. Fans love to watch them as they show great potential in their future careers for the Cardinals. The facts show it!!
A bold fan could say that this dogfight in the NL Central division is the toughest division ever in baseball. It is difficult to keep any of these teams out of the playoffs. This makes it a very interesting division coming down to the wire of who will and will not make it to the postseason.