With the National League Central once again featuring five teams mired in mediocrity, with just two above.500, let’s take a trip down memory lane to a year when a similar scene played out.
That year was 2006, when St. Louis won the NL Central with an 83-78 (.516) record, finishing 1.5 games ahead of Houston (82-80) to clinch the division.
The Tony La Russa-led team got hot at the right time, however, rolling past San Diego (in four games in the NLDS), the New York Mets (in seven games in the NLCS) and Detroit (in five games in the World Series) to capture the club’s first title in 24 years.
Fast forward 17 years, and there are two divisions that have such levels of mediocrity — the AL and NL Central.
On the AL side, Minnesota and Cleveland hold the top spot despite each having a .494 winning percentage, while Cincinnati and Milwaukee are the only teams above.500 in the NL Central.
Unfortunate, you can’t legally bet on baseball or any other sport in the state. Missouri sports betting failed to pass out of the legislature for a second straight year.
With the AL and NL Central being especially down this season, a record just a few games above .500 might be enough to win either division. BetMissouri.com looked back at the worst regular season teams (86 or fewer wins) to reach the postseason since the MLB expanded to three divisions in 1994.
We utilized historical records from MLB.com and Baseball-Reference.com to construct this list.
Worst MLB Playoff Teams Since 1995
Although there are no Missouri betting apps, bettors can drive to neighboring states and get +375 odds on Atlanta to win the World Series. Tampa Bay is second in championship odds at +450.
2006 Cardinals Baseball’s ‘Worst’ Champion
Few teams live up to baseball’s adage that the best team is the one that gets hot at the right time like the 2006 Cardinals, who posted the lowest year-end winning percentage (.516) of any World Series winner in the sport’s history.
The Cardinals’ 83-78 record was the club’s worst year-end figure since 1999 (75-87), though they got hot when it mattered most.
St. Louis entered the 2006 postseason with a 12-17 record in September but thumped the Padres in the NLDS — thanks in large part to the offensive exploits of Albert Pujols, who hit .333 in the series with a homer and a double, in addition to legendary catcher Yadier Molina.
From there, the Cardinals did just enough to eke out an NLCS win over the Mets, with then-closer Adam Wainwright striking out Mets slugger Carlos Beltran to cap off the team’s Game 7 victory.
In the World Series, St. Louis needed no such dramatics, rolling over the Tigers in five games to hoist the trophy for the first time since 1982.
This year’s Cardinals would gladly take a late season run to .500 and the playoffs. St. Louis is currently 13 games below .500 and mired in last place in the NL Central. Although there is no BetMGM Sportsbook Missouri, BetMGM Kansas has the Cardinals as +1000 to win the division, ahead of only Pittsburgh.