NL Central truly one of MLB’s best divisions ever
It’s hardly revelatory to say the National League Central is baseball’s best division in 2015. The Cardinals, Pirates and Cubs account for three of the top four records in the majors, with the American League Central-leading Royals claiming the other.
The better discussion is whether the 2015 NL Central is the best division in the last 30 years — which, in the rawest statistical sense, it might well be.
Divisional play began in 1969. Since then, there have been only two occasions in which three of the majors’ top four records came from a single division, according to STATS LLC:
* 1978 AL East: No. 1 Yankees (100-63), No. 2 Red Sox (99-64), No. 4 Brewers (93-69)
* 1983 AL East: No. 2 Orioles (98-64), No. 3 Tigers (92-70), No. 4 Yankees (91-71)
In other words, over nearly a half-century of divisional play, no NL divisional trio has been as dominant — relative to the rest of the majors — as the current Cardinals, Pirates and Cubs.
At this point, it will be a surprise if the NL Wild Card Game is not a showdown between two Central teams, yet it’s not as if these clubs are coasting toward the finish. The Cubs (18-7), Pirates (18-7), and Cardinals (16-9) also account for three of the NL’s top four records this month (the scorching Mets also are 18-7).
The Blue Jays might be the greatest threat to the NL Central’s bid for history. Toronto is a major-league-best 19-5 this month and trails the Cubs by only 1 1/2 games — a reminder that the big-market AL East still can’t be ignored.