The Essential National League Central Division Companion

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The N.L. Central has been arguably the best division in baseball for 2013 thus far, certainly in the National League itself. This division has been decidedly pedestrian for some time, but is now becoming something of a force. The Cardinals are always there, but the Reds are becoming a more consistent threat, and the Pirates renaissance appears to be upon us.

These factors have resulted in a very top-heavy division this season, with the possibility of producing three 90-win teams, as well as both wild card entries from the National League. The balance may not be there just yet, but the quality is clearly evident.

Here is a quick glimpse at each team in the division, in order of current standings.

Pittsburgh Pirates: The Pirates struggles over the last 20 years have certainly been well lamented. However, this franchise seems to have turned the corner, and that elusive winning season may be arriving shortly. This should not be a one-year aberration though, as this franchise has an impressive stockpile of young talent that will keep them relevant for some time, if handled correctly.

St. Louis Cardinals: Well, the Cardinals just insist on winning every bloody year, it would appear. As a Cub fan, it pains me to admit it, but this franchise simply knows what it is doing. The farm is always loaded with major league ready prospects, and the talent evaluation is beyond measure. The front office always seems to know when to spend, and perhaps more importantly, when to show restraint. They will continue to win, but will encounter more resistance now within the division.

Cincinnati Reds: The Reds won the division in 2010, and again last season with a robust 97 wins. The farm system has slipped some in recent years, but with talented position players like Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, along with young arms such as Aroldis Chapman and Tony Cingrani, the Reds should remain in the discussion.

Chicago Cubs: I believe it has been roughly two or three eons since the Cubs last won a World Series. However, I also believe that there may be light at the end of the tunnel, as opposed to yet another speeding train. Theo Epstein and the Gang have a feasible plan in place, and are building the organization from the ground up. The farm system was essentially barren when this group took over, but there has been a significant talent infusion that has occurred pretty quickly. The big club is still scuffling, but a bit more patience could see this thing through. I mean really, what choice do we have. With a little luck, by 2015, the Cubs could join the big three in 90-win land.

Milwaukee Brewers: This brings us to the Brewers. They did win 96 games and the division in 2011, but have fallen on some hard times. Even beyond the Ryan Braun nonsense, this team is not particularly good. There is certainly talent here, particularly shortstop Jean Segura, whom the Brewers absolutely stole from Anaheim in the Zack Greinke deal. Unfortunately, the pitching staff is a complete mess, and the cupboard is bare in the system. In this division, it may be difficult for the Brewers to compete for some time.

So, the N.L. Central is looking pretty good at the moment, and the future appears to be bright. Currently, only 5 games separate the top three teams, making this the most competitive three-team race outside of the A.L. East. Also, if the season ended today, both N.L. wild cards would come from this division.

It should be an interesting couple of months.

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Posted on August 12, 2013, in 2013, Brewers, Cardinals, Cubs, Pirates, Reds and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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