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The National League Central Division is one of Major League Baseball's six divisions. It was created in 1994, merging two teams from the West (Cincinnati and Houston) and three teams from the East (Chicago, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis) divisions of the National League. In 1998 it became the largest division in Major League Baseball, with the addition of a sixth member (Milwaukee). The most recent team to win the division is the St. Louis Cardinals.

This division has been dominated by St. Louis and Houston, who have accounted for all but 4 of the official division titles (from 1995 onward), as well as 3 of the 4 wild card berths from the division. The Cubs have been rising to prominence in the division recently, capturing the division's first wild card berth in 1998, and winning the division in 2003, 2007, and 2008 while also fielding strong teams in other years.

Contents

Current members

Division lineups

Time period Lineup Changes from previous setup
1994-1997 Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals 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
1998-present Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals Milwaukee switched leagues due to the 1998 expansion, moving in from AL Central Division

NL Central Division regular season Champions

Year Winner Record % Playoffs
1994 (through August 11) Cincinnati Reds§ 66-48 .579 No Playoffs
1995 (starting April 25, 144 G) 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 St. Louis Cardinals & Houston Astros 93-69 .574 Lost NLDS to Arizona, 3-2/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

§ - Due to the players' strike on August 12, no official winner was awarded. Cincinnati was leading at the time of the strike.
† - The Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals finished the 2001 season tied for first place with identical records and both teams were awarded division championships.[1] Then for the purpose of playoff seeding, the Astros received the NL Central slot and the Cardinals received the Wild Card seeding. 2001 is considered by the MLB administrators to be the first shared divisional championship in MLB history.[2]

National League Championships

The division has produced three National League regular season Pennant winners: St. Louis in 2004 and 2006, and Houston in 2005. In both 2004 and 2005 the American League Champions swept the World Series and in 2006 the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series in five games.

Wild-card winners

See List of National League Wild Card winners (since 1994)

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, five NL Central teams have won the wild card.

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

* - 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.

NL Central titles won by team

Team Number of Championship(s) Won Last Year Won
St. Louis Cardinals 8 2009
Houston Astros 4 2001
Chicago Cubs 3 2008
Cincinnati Reds 1 1995
Milwaukee Brewers 0 --
Pittsburgh Pirates 0 --

See also

References

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