5) Detroit Tigers - .600 (18-12)
After a strong start to the season -- especially by their standards -- the Tigers have faded back towards obscurity. They sit third in the AL central with a 31-41 record, well out of the wild card race. And yet they still deserve some kudos for continuing to fight hard, as evidenced by the fifth-best winning percentage in the Majors in close games. In fact their overall record doesn't bear thinking about, if they didn't have such an excellent competitive spirit.
4) Atlanta Braves - .640 (16-9)
There must be a mixture of pride and what might have been for Blue Jays fans, when it comes to former GM Alex Anthopoulos. In five years with the Braves, he has helped them win five division titles and a World Series. They are once again flourishing in 2023, with the best record in the NL. As part of being a well-run organization, they are one of the top teams in the Majors when it comes to winning in close contests - don't expect this to change anytime soon.
3) Philadelphia Phillies - .714 (20-8)
With the fourth-highest payroll in the Majors, more is expected from Phillies fans. Yes they are only 2.0 games back of a wild card spot, but they are just above .500 at 38-35 and 9.0 games behind Atlanta in the NL East. Consider how much worse-off this high-priced talent would be without their collective clutch gene. On the flip side, this continued ability to win close games can potentially serve them well when we approach the finishing line in the regular season.
2) Milwaukee Brewers - .750 (15-5)
The Brewers have been one of the more consistent teams in the Majors the past five years, resulting in two division titles and four playoff qualifications. The streak was ended last season, but they are now right back in contention for the AL Central in 2023. Helping with this challenge has been their excellent record in close games, including 4-1 in extra innings. If they continue in this vein, it should provide an advantage in the tightly-contested division race.
1) Miami Marlins - .778 (21-6)
The Marlins haven't done much the past two seasons, both times finishing fourth in their division in the 60-wins range. This year however, they have the third-best record in the NL and own the top wild card spot. A big part of the reason for this is their record in close games, including 18-5 in one-run contests. Anything close to their current consistency for the remainder of this campaign will give them an excellent chance at just the fourth playoff berth in their 31-year history.