Welcome to SB Nation FanPulse, a survey of fans across MLB. Each week, we send 30 polls to plugged in fans from each team. A’s fans, click HERE to learn more and join FanPulse.
A’s fans were asked last week if they have confidence in the team’s starting rotation, and the result was a resounding no. The final tally was only 5% approval to the question, “Are you confident that the A’s can contend with their current starting rotation?” In other words, 95% of A’s fans answered no to that question.
That result isn’t a huge surprise, as it’s no secret that the A’s season-opening rotation was relatively weak. On top of that, this poll was taken just after Oakland had been swept by the Blue Jays over the weekend, but before they bounced back and swept the Rangers. The A’s received only 11 innings from their starters in that three-game Toronto series.
Fortunately, there’s a bright side. Just as the rotation’s flaws were never a secret, neither was the fact that the group would evolve over the course of the summer, as top prospects and injured stars found their way into the mix. Indeed, that process already began when Chris Bassitt debuted on Monday and fired zeroes in an Oakland victory.
It’s a bummer that the current rotation isn’t one that fans think can contend, but frankly it doesn’t need to be. The five names that were in it last week aren’t necessarily the names who will be in it by year’s end (just like in 2018), and if some of them do stick around that long it’ll be because they stepped up and became pitchers who do inspire confidence.
It’s easy to see Frankie Montas and/or Chris Bassitt holding up as quality starters. It’s also feasible to see Brett Anderson staying healthy long enough to keep contributing, and/or for Mike Fiers to bounce back into a solid arm — it was just a few months ago that everyone was super angry about Fiers not getting the nod to start a sudden-death playoff game. And whatever holes open up, the second half of the season could bring reinforcements ranging from the return of Sean Manaea to the arrival of Jesus Luzardo, among many others.
Fans aren’t stoked on the A’s rotation just yet, and that’s completely fair. But we’ll check back on this question a few more times as the season goes on, and don’t be surprised if the results improve markedly over time.
Let’s also check in on the main weekly questions.
- Confidence in direction of team: 90% (down from 95%)
- Confidence in manager: 95% (down from 100%)
Again, neither of these slight dips are a surprise given the timing of the poll. Respondents had to answer between Monday morning and Tuesday morning, and that was probably the lowest point of the season so far. Between a back-breaking blown save in Texas, a two-game split at home against the Astros, and a sweep at the hands of the Jays, Oakland lost 5-of-6 games — mostly at home, and mostly against teams they should have beaten. And they looked bad doing it, between the rotation disappearing and the lineup scoring just nine runs in the five home games against Hou/Tor.
Even with all that bad news, these approval ratings are still among the highest in the league. Bob Melvin’s 95% is among the top 11 managers, with only eight others finishing ahead in the 97-100 range. Only eight other teams finished above 90% in overall team confidence.
What’s more, things are already looking up for Oakland since then. The A’s got back on track against the Rangers, scoring 23 runs in three games and getting adequate work from their starters. And now they get the chance for vengeance in Toronto.
There was also a national question posed to all fans. Unfortunately, the wording turned out to be confusing — it was meant to ask about pitchers intentionally hitting batters with pitches, which is the true definition of “beaning” a batter. However, beaning is most commonly associated with hitting a player specifically in the head, and some voters confused it as a question about outright headhunting rather than just generally plunking a player in the butt for admiring a homer.
Either way, I’m personally disappointed (but not terribly surprised) that the results weren’t heavier in favor of NO OBVIOUSLY IT’S NOT OK HOW ARE WE STILL TALKING ABOUT THIS DON’T TRY TO HURT OTHER PEOPLE YOU DUMMIES GET OVER IT AND GROW UP LIKE AN ADULT.