Photo Credit: Mlb.com
For many years the American League East was considered the best division in all of baseball. It contains juggernauts such as the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox as well as the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays and even the Tampa Bay Rays had their own runs of success. The NL Central however now may be the most competitive division in all of baseball. Last year the Pittsburgh Pirates won 98 games, the Chicago Cubs won 97 games. The Pirates and Cubs ended the year in second and third respectfully as the St. Louis Cardinals continued their dominance. In any other division in baseball the Cubs and Pirates would have won the division and had a guaranteed playoff spot; in the NL Central that was not the case. The NL central also now contains some of the most talented players in baseball including Jake Arrieta, Andrew McCutchen, Kris Bryant, Matt Holliday, Gerrit Cole, Ryan Braun and many others. It is no coincidence that this division contains many talented players. It contains some of the best farm systems in baseball including the Cubs and Pirates. Who both have homegrown players that are a large part of their teams success.
This division just like the AL East changed once struggling teams became good. In 2013 the Pirates won 93 games ending a twenty year stretch of finishing the season under 500. hundred. Since 2013 the Pirates have won at least ninety games a year. The Chicago Cubs returned to the playoffs last year and look poised to be in contention for the foreseeable future. This division no longer an easy divsion title for the Cardinals. Even the Reds and Brewers who are now rebuilding have had success and made the playoffs in the past ten years. The AL East remains competitive however it does not contain a surplus of talent like the NL Central does. Every year one of the five teams in this division call up a superstar prospect.
Even though the 2016 season is half way over their is still a lot of meaningful baseball to be played. If the second half plays out like it has in the past; the Pirates, Cardinals, and Cubs will be fighting for the division title till the dog days of summer. Whoever misses out will likely play in the Wild Card game meaning just like last year two of the four teams to make it into the playoffs from the NL will come from the central; not too bad.