Coming off a 103-win season and their first World Series title since 1908, the Cubs were expected to cruise to another division title. Instead, Chicago entered the All-Star break under .500 and 5 1/2 games behind the Brewers. The Cubs have since turned things around, but Milwaukee won't entirely go away. Neither, for that matter, has St. Louis, which used an eight-game winning streak in August to briefly tie for the top spot.
The Pirates have never been able to mount a sustained charge and will miss the playoffs for the second consecutive year after making it three seasons in a row from 2013 to '15. The Reds jumped out to a 7-2 record for an early division lead but have been in last place since mid-June.
Like its AL counterpart, the NL Central was born in 1994 when MLB switched to a three-division format. The Cubs and Cardinals imported their century-old rivalry from the NL East, joined by the Pirates, while the Reds and Astros came from the NL West. The Brewers not only switched divisions, they switched leagues, coming over from the AL in 1998 when the majors expanded by adding the Rays and Diamondbacks. Houston stayed until being moved to the AL for the 2013 season.
Before leaving the Astros won four division titles in the NL Central, a total the Cubs have matched and second only to the Cardinals' 10. St. Louis's worst record among its division title teams came in 2006, when it won 83 games, but that didn't stop the Redbirds from winning an unexpected World Series championship.
In 2013, the Cardinals were joined in the postseason by the Pirates and Reds, the first time a division had sent three teams to the playoffs. Their wild-card game matchup was nothing new for Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, which faced each other in the NLCS five times from 1970 to 1990 when they played in opposite divisions.
Division Titles: 6 (1984, 1989, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2016)
Division Titles: 9 (1970, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976, 1979, 1990, 1995, 2012)
Division Titles: 3 (1981, 1982, 2011)
Division Titles: 9 (1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979, 1990, 1991, 1992)
St. Louis Cardinals
Division Titles: 13 (1982, 1985, 1987, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015)