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The 2014 IBI Awards: Most Surprising Player

House, Carrasco's breakout seasons headline the Most Surprising Player vote

The 2014 IBI Awards: Most Surprising Player
T.J. House (Photo: AP Photo/Jim Mone)
October 11, 2014
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Welcome to the third annual edition of the IBI Awards!

At the end of every year, we here at IBI vote on various categories relating to Cleveland baseball as we continue looking back on 2014 ahead of our 2015 offseason coverage.

Today is the sixth installment of the IBI Awards, the Most Surprising Player.

Previous awards for this season include:

Unlike the categories before this one, Most Surprising Player can have multiple criteria. Is the surprise a good one? A bad one? Given that dichotomy, some of the voting in this category can get seem weird until reading the written breakdown (which, as always, you will find below).

Rank

Name

Points

1

T.J. House

28

2

Carlos Carrasco

26

T-3

Jose Ramirez

16

T-3

Lonnie Chisenhall

16

5

Scott Atchison

14

6

Michael Brantley

11

7

Jason Kipnis

10

T-8

Kyle Crockett

7

T-8

Zach Walters

7

10

Roberto Perez

6

11

David Murphy

4

12

Nick Swisher

3

T-13

Cody Allen

2

T-13

Trevor Bauer

2

T-13

Nick Hagadone

2

16

Tyler Holt

1

My personal ballot went for the positives: the emergence of Carrasco from a bust to a potential top-of-the-rotation arm came in first; Brantley’s breakout as an MVP candidate finished second; Atchison’s ascent from minor league signing to second-best reliever in the bullpen third; Ramirez’s development as a major league shortstop came in fourth; and House’s presence as a potential back-of-the-rotation stalwart fifth.

Surprise, as eluded to above, is in the eye of the beholder. My ballot went fully positive -- while others’ did not -- but the ultimate winner, House, still came in fifth for me.

As I said, it is in the eye of the beholder. After seeing House over the past few years, I was expecting him to pitch well. His immediate success was surprising, but seeing House perform as an adequate major league pitcher was not a total shock for me.

But those are just my thoughts. Here is what the rest of IBI had to say:

Tony Lastoria:

  1. House
  2. Carrasco
  3. Brantley
  4. Atchison
  5. Ramirez

Few considered House as a legit starting option for the Indians when spring training opened in February, but I know I was one of the few who felt so after his very good end-of-season reports last year shared to me by some top Indians staff members. He was a depth arm who needed the right opportunity to get a chance, one that came when several pitchers on the staff struggled and were sent to Triple-A Columbus, got hurt, or were traded. He took the opportunity by the proverbial horns and ran with it. Barring an injury next spring or a complete meltdown in spring training, House should open the season as the Indians number five starter. Carrasco is not so much of a surprise in that he always had this kind of talent; he is a surprise in how bright the light was when it finally clicked on. Brantley evolved into a perennial league MVP candidate, Atchison went from non-roster invite to bullpen stalwart overnight and Ramirez proved to be a capable Major League shortstop.

Hayden Grove:

  1. House
  2. Brantley
  3. Swisher
  4. Allen
  5. Chisenhall

This might not be the popular pick for Most Surprising Player- as Michael Brantley’s breakout season or Nick Swisher’s down year were certainly contenders- but my most surprising player is starting pitcher TJ House. Maybe the reason is more based upon the fact that he wasn’t expected be on the Indians roster this season, but nevertheless, he earned his stripes and a spot in this rotation next year. House was very, very effective down the stretch, pitching well in big game after big game, something I don’t think anyone envisioned as the 2014 season unfolded.

Michael Goodman:

  1. Carrasco
  2. Atchison
  3. House
  4. Bauer
  5. Chisenhall

We all knew that Carlos Carrasco had the tools to be a good pitcher, but I don’t think we expected him to be as good as his was during the last two months of the season. It’s still a question of how good he can be over a full season, but he’s shown all the tools to not just be a good starter – but a great one. Atchison is a pitcher who I didn’t think had a chance to make the team, and he ended up being the second best reliever on the team. T.J. House went from mid-level prospect to valuable starting pitcher in just a few months. His peripheral numbers support his ERA, so I’m not sure this was a fluke either. He looks like a legitimate starting pitcher. Bauer is another guy we knew was talented, but after last season I certainly didn’t expect to get 150 quality innings from him. He’s not consistent, and I think he still has some mental hurdles to jump, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was much better than anticipated. Even in a rotation with Salazar and House, Bauer is the youngest member of the group.

Jake Dungan:

  1. Atchison
  2. Chisenhall
  3. House
  4. Hagadone
  5. Perez

If we made this list at the All-Star break, Lonnie Chisenhall would’ve topped it easily, but his second half struggles moved him down a slot for me. Scott Atchison became the latest in a continuing series of under-the-radar acquisitions by the Indians, signing a minor league deal in the offseason and becoming an integral part of the bullpen. He has also become a beloved figure among his teammates and fans as the “old man” on the team and will be back next season with his veteran presence in the bullpen.

John Vourlis:

  1. Kipnis (in a bad way)
  2. House
  3. Carrasco
  4. Ramirez
  5. Chisenhall

Kipnis seemed the most likely not to fail this year. When he did, it was both surprising and disappointing.

Spencer Davies:

  1. Chisenhall
  2. Carrasco
  3. Murphy
  4. Ramirez
  5. Holt

Before the season started, I was the most down on Lonnie Chisenhall as one could be. In the small sample size that I saw in his previous years, I was very disappointed in his production. Then came an amazing, unpredictably dominant start at the plate. I was dumbfounded and ecstatic to be wrong, as I finally saw his bat making the most noise on the team for months. After the All-Star break, Chisenhall’s tear slowed down and eventually he came back down to earth. However, he still finished with a great season at the plate which surprised me the most.

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at jpiasci1@gmail.com. If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

User Comments

C L Who
October 11, 2014 - 9:44 PM EDT
Chisenhall "came down to earth" alright....after the ASB he hit around .220 / .270. I'm not convinced he has turned the corner, but his six weeks of glory at the plate were, indeed, surprising. Seems like he can only hit when he has competition for the 3B spot. Another reason to add Urshela to the roster.
Rocky55
October 11, 2014 - 1:52 PM EDT
I'd vote for House but I'm surprised no one mentioned Kluber. Kluber's season was Very surprising.

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