Chicago Cubs: Previewing the 2017 National League Central
By Erik Mauro
The National League Central Division was one of the best divisions in baseball over the last few years, before a down year last year. Last year, the Chicago Cubs took over the National League Central Division from the Cardinals.
The Chicago Cubs won 103 games, running away with the division, finishing 17.5 games ahead of St. Louis. It was the Cubs first division title since 2008, and their fourth Central division title overall. Prior to last year, the Cardinals had won three straight division titles from 2013-2015.
The Pirates came in third place, after a relatively down year, they made three straight playoff appearances from 2013-2015, making the wild card in those years, and ending their string of 20 straight losing seasons, capping it with a 98 win season in 2015. In 2016, however, they fell off, winning just 78 games and falling back to under .500.
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In the midst of a rebuild, the Milwaukee Brewers came in fourth in the central, winning just 73 games. However, the Brewers showed a lot of bright spots with a lot of its young talent. Five years ago, the Brewers won the Central and made a run to the NLCS, eventually falling to the Cardinals in six games.
Since then, they have failed to make the playoffs and have been stuck in mediocrity.
Bringing up the rear in the Central in 2016, it was the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds are another team in the midst of a rebuild. Cincinnati won the Central in 2010 and 2012, and added another playoff season in 2013, before falling off in 2014, and it’s been nothing but losing ever since. 2017 shouldn’t be much different from these past couple years.