Three of the four best teams in all of Major League Baseball are in the National League Central Division. The St. Louis Cardinals have the best record in baseball (31-17), the Reds have the second-best (31-18), the Atlanta Braves from the AL East are the third best team (30-18), and the Pittsburgh Pirates are the fourth-best team (30-19).
The NL Central is very tight right now, the Cardinals are in first place, but only by a half game, then there are the Reds, then the Pirates who are in third place, but only a game-and-a-half back.
It’s only May, but you can expect a tight race for the NL Central Crown this season.
Last year, the Reds won the division, they had the second-best record in all of baseball, the Washington Nationals had the best, the Cardinals ended up going to the playoffs via wildcard, and eventually made it to the National League Championship Series, and the Pittsburgh Pirates looked like a team that posed a bit of a threat for most of the season, but ended up falling out of contention.
If any of the three teams competing for the NL Central Title starts to slump as a team, and lose a bunch of games, they could find themselves way back in the division. It might sound foolish to think a team could be out of contention this early, but think about the other two teams in the division, the Brewers and the Cubs; the Brewers have 19 wins, the Cubbies have 18, do you consider them as a serious contender? Of course not.
It’s important for every team to keep winning ball games right now, just to stay up with the other teams. These three teams could very well all end up in the playoffs; one division winner, and two wildcard teams.
The Cardinals look like a great team, as always. They are lead by veteran guys like Yadier Molina, arguably the best catcher in baseball, Carlos Beltran, who has 10 homers this season, and Matt Holiday. They also have great talent among the younger guys, like Allen Craig, Jon Jay, and Matt Carpenter. Their pitching is great, as always, they have a lot of talent on the hill. Guys like Lance Lynn, Adam Wainwright, and every other starter, then a pretty good closer in Edward Mujica, will really impress you with their pitching abilities.
The Reds are also a great team. Joey Votto is the face of the team without a doubt, but it’s not crazy to say Cincinnati is home to baseball’s Big Three. Those three guys would be Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Shin-Soo Choo. Joey Votto leads the NL in batting average (.355), Phillips leads the team, and National League in RBI with 42, and Choo leads the team in home runs with 9. The Reds have also received offensive help from other guys. Todd Frazier has helped a lot, he is having a pretty good season, he has six homers and 31 RBI. Jay Bruce, after getting off to a slow start, also has six homers and 31 RBI, and an impressive .273 average. The Reds pitching staff is one of the best in baseball, they have two aces, Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos. They also have a pitcher who threw a no-hitter last year in Homer Bailey. Bronson Arroyo, one of the most reliable pitchers in the history of baseball is still a Red, and Mike Leake, a pitcher on-the-rise, is the fifth starter. Cincinnati’s bullpen is also spectacular, Logan Ondrusek is having a nice season, as is Sam LeCure, those are two great pitchers that take the hill in the 5th-7th innings. If your team is down against the Reds after the starter’s day is over…good luck. The Reds have three closers, Jonathon Broxton, Sean Marshall, and perhaps the best closer in the NL, the Cuban Missle, Aroldis Chapman. The Reds also play great defense, they are a great team.
The Pirates, right now at least, look like a very good team. Andrew McCutchen is one of the best players in the National League, he is hitting .294, has seven home runs, 26 RBI, and 12 stolen bases. He is a fantastic player, and perhaps one of the most underrated players in the game today. The Buccos also receive offensive help from guys like Starling Marte, who is hitting .301, has five homers, and 17 RBI. Pedro Alverez has a low batting average, but still has scored 19 runs, has clubbed 10 home runs, and has knocked in 25. The Pirates best starting pitcher is Jeff Locke. Locke has a nice ERA of 2.45, and has five wins. Wandy Rodriguez is also a good pitcher, he has five wins and an ERA of 3.40. The Pirates have not had a winning season in a long time, the would love to have one this season.
The NL Central is going to be a very exciting division to watch, and right now, every game is important.