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.