The NL Central is tougher than we thought, and the Cardinals are behind the 8-ball

The NL Central was expected to be a relatively weak division in 2024. However, the opposite has happened thus far, and the Cardinals are once again behind the 8-ball.
Arizona Diamondbacks v St. Louis Cardinals
Arizona Diamondbacks v St. Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages

We are now at the end of the month of April. Things look a little better for the Cardinals than they did last year, but not by much.

It's been another rocky start for St. Louis. With a record of 13-15, the Cardinals once again sit in last place in the NL Central, though only 4.5 games back of first, a spot occupied by both the Brewers and Cubs.

Coming into the season, we heard a lot about how the Central divisions were going to be the weakest divisions in baseball. However, it hasn't turned out that way so far.

In fact, the NL Central is shaping up to be one of the better divisions. Four teams in the division are .500 or better. Sadly, the Cardinals are not one of them.

But this might mean that the NL Central is far tougher than we originally thought and that it won't be a cakewalk for whoever wins it.

The NL Central is far more dangerous than we thought

Right now, it's the Brewers and Cubs who lead the division. But they aren't sitting comfortably at the top. In fact, the Reds sit just 2.5 games back and the Pirates sit four games back.

For the past two years, the NL Central hasn't been a very competitive division. In 2022, the Cardinals ran away with it after the Brewers got rid of Josh Hader. Last year, the Brewers won it by nine games over the Cubs. But the division has a different feel to it this year.

The Central is getting better, and as of now, it's looking like a five-team race, assuming that the Cardinals get hot and start winning more games.

The biggest sign of change in the Central is that the Pirates are not buried just yet. A few years ago, they would've already sunk to the bottom. But they got off to a hot start last year and have outperformed expectations so far this year.

The unfortunate reality is that while the Central is changing, the Cardinals don't appear to be changing with it, hence the reason they're in last place, again. The team that was once the pride of the division is now the doormat. They're behind the 8-ball and haven't made the necessary changes to be a true contender in the National League.

But all the talk of the NL Central being weak has quickly been proven wrong. Everyone is getting better, except the Cardinals. It's not an excuse for the Cardinals to be at the bottom, but it shows that the changing of the guard is underway.