Demigods Reach Divinity

November 10th, 2023 by Kevin

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A year ago, the Moonshiners, who entered the DTBL in 1999, finally won their first league title on their 24th attempt.  That made the Demigods, who entered the league a year after the Moonshiners, the longest tenured team without a title.  And wouldn’t you know it, for a second consecutive year, a team has won their first title in their 24th try.  It was not an easy task as no team ever took complete control of things and virtually every team was in the mix for the title at one point or another throughout the season.  By the stretch run though, it was down to two serious contenders.  In the end, the Demigods’ league best offense pushed them over the top as they were able to hold off the Darkhorses to win by 4 1/2 points.  All other challengers fell double digits off the pace.  For the very first time, Dom’s Demigods are the DTBL Champions.

It has been a steady climb for the Demigods since their very disappointing last place finish in 2019, having improved their place of finish every season since then.  A year ago, they were a serious title contender but ultimately fell 10 1/2 points behind the Moonshiners to finish in third place.  It was a mediocre offense that kept them from reaching their ultimate goal.  They turned their focus to fixing that weakness through the draft by selecting hitters with their first four picks.  And boy did that plan pay off as they fairly easily led the league in batting points with 43.  The pitching staff was not quite as successful as a year ago, but only the Darkhorses exceeded their 32 1/2 pitching points.  Interestingly enough, their 75 1/2 total points was not a franchise high water mark.  In 2014, they accumulated 86 1/2 points while finishing in second place.  That total would have lapped the field this year.  In a very competitive league from top to bottom in 2023, the Demigods proved to be the best of the bunch.

The Demigods offensive turnaround really started the minute they selected Corbin Carroll with the eighth pick in the draft.  Carroll would go on to have about as strong of a rookie campaign as we’ve ever seen, although several players can actually make that claim this year as it was an absolutely loaded rookie class.  Not many of the teams picking ahead of the Demigods should have big regrets about their selections.  But to get this kind of season out of an eighth overall pick is quite remarkable.  Carroll led all rookies, and finished second overall, with 10.7 Batting PAR.  He hit .285 with 25 home runs and 54 stolen bases.  Prior to this year, only one player in DTBL history had a season with 25+ HR and 50+ SB, Hanley Ramirez in 2007.  Of course, Ronald Acuna blew away both of those figures this year as well and fellow rookie Bobby Witt Jr fell just one stolen base shy of joining the club.  Carroll was a nice complement to a pair of longtime Demigods stalwarts who had their typical great seasons:  Freddie Freeman and Francisco Lindor.  Both topped 7 PAR making the Demigods the only team with three of the top 10 in the Batting PAR leaderboard.  After missing all of 2022 due to injury and then a PED suspension, Fernando Tatis Jr returned to elite form as a 25/25 HR/SB club member.  Jose Altuve returned in May from a broken thumb suffered in the WBC and put up his usual stellar numbers as well.  Early round draft picks from the Cubs outfield, Seiya Suzuki and Ian Happ, were nice additions too.  This has been a very deep offensive roster for quite some time.  Carroll and crew took it to a new level this season.

On the pitching side of things, the Demigods were able to patch together a solid group that was beset by injuries and underperformance from one of their long time aces.  Zac Gallen was easily their best pitcher, and among the best in the entire league.  He led the staff with 17 wins and 220 strikeouts.  His 3.47 ERA and 1.12 WHIP were also best among qualified Demigods.  Perhaps the move that saved this staff from becoming a colossal disappointment was the free agent signing of Justin Steele the first week of the season.  He accumulated 5.4 PAR, second on the staff, in five months on the active roster.  Usual staff ace Max Fried had an injury plagued campaign that limited him to just 60 innings, while veteran Aaron Nola had an extremely disappointing year by his high standards.  A shoulder injury cost Joe Musgrove the final two months of the season, after having a very good year to that point.  So it was not a smooth ride for the Demigods rotation, but it all worked out in the end.  The bullpen has never really been a focal point for the Demigods and this year was no different.  David Bednar was outstanding though and helped push them to the middle of the pack in saves.  Top to bottom, it wasn’t a special season for this pitching staff.  However, they were able to piece together a staff that was good enough to get the job done.

The Demigods season got off to a really slow start.  They were near the bottom of the standings for most of the first two months of the season and were in ninth place as late as Memorial Day.  They moved up to the middle of the pack in early June and basically plateaued there for the better part of the middle two months of the season.  It wasn’t until the last week of July that they moved into the top three and then really caught fire in early August.  On September 5th, they moved into first place for good, holding onto the top spot for the final 3 1/2 weeks of the season.  The Darkhorses proved to be their only competition down the stretch, with a squad that was basically the opposite of the Demigods:  league’s best pitching staff but a mediocre offense.  The Demigods pitching was a bit better than the Darkhorses hitting though, which proved to be the difference.

With the Moonshiners and Demigods both winning their first titles in their 24th seasons, there are no long time members of the league left without a championship.  The Komodos now have the distinction of being the longest tenured team without a title, but that drought is just seven years now.  The more notable droughts belong to the Cougars and Choppers who haven’t won a title in their last 27 and 24 tries, respectively.  We will see if another streak ends in 2024.  Congratulations to Dom and the Demigods on the 2023 DTBL Championship!

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