The NL Central has changed a lot in the past three years. The worst division in baseball has become the strongest. This was partially due to the loss of Houston in the division. However, each team in the NL Central has improved since 2012, regardless of losing Houston.
To begin painting the picture of the 2012 NL Central, there were six teams. It was the biggest division in baseball. Many sportscasters argued that, even though they were large, the quality of its teams was lower than the rest of the league. They were partially correct. Even though the Cardinals had just won the World Series, they had lost their branding. Albert Pujols and Tony LaRussa left in the same year leaving a novice coach to take the helm of what would appear to be a sinking ship. The expectations were low for the Redbirds even though they had Lance Berkman and Carlos Beltran- two players nearing the end of their respective careers. Somehow, the Cardinals made it to the NLCS but, as many commentators were quick to pick up on, the NL Central was proven weak when the Cardinals were floored by the Giants after taking a 3 to 1 lead in the series.
In 2012, the NL Central won 463 games total which was only 47.8% of the total games they played. Many skeptics argue that this was because Houston (55-107) was still in the division. However, even with the redaction of the Astros, the league was 408-396 (50.7%). Their record was less that spectacular.
2013 was a better year for the NL Central. Three of their, now, five teams won 90 games or more. The final record was 421-389 (52% wins). The Cardinals also took home the National League Pennant that year. For the first time in the New Wild Card Era, two teams from the same division battled for the final spot in the playoffs. The Pirates and the Reds had great success and helped improve the image of the NL Central. The Cardinals also tied with the Red Sox for most wins in the entire MLB.
So far, 2014 is more representative of 2013 than of 2012. The Brewers are shocking the country with one of baseball’s top records: 51-33. The Reds and the Redbirds are both six and a half back with 43-38 and 44-39 records respectively. Finally, even the Pirates are above .500 with a record of 42-40. Every team in the NL Central is above .500 except the Cubs. The total win loss for 2013 is 214-196 (52.2% wins). If the NL Central can keep holding these numbers, it would be no surprise if they soon became the National League’s dynasty.