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Fan confidence fully restored as Oakland A’s climb back into playoff position

A 10-game winning streak did wonders for the team’s outlook.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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 on Monday if they have confidence in the direction of the team, and the result was a resounding yes! The final tally was 93% approval.

That represents a big bounce-back in confidence by the Oakland faithful. The percentage had dropped as low as 51% just three weeks ago, after the A’s had completed a disastrous 1-8 road trip. However, the approval rating crept up steadily from there as the team improved, and now it’s back at its highest point since Week 4 in mid-April (six weeks ago).

The final catalyst in the rebound was the A’s recent 10-game win streak. They swept the Tigers, Indians, and Mariners in succession, and in the process they effectively eliminated the entire early hole they’d dug for themselves with their slow start. Better yet, the streak may yet retroactively grow to 11, pending the result of a suspended game that will be made up in September (and which Oakland leads 5-3 in the 7th).

Even after snapping their surge with three losses this week, the A’s have still worked their way back up into playoff position. At 29-28, they entered Saturday tied for the second AL Wild Card with the Red Sox and Rangers. That doesn’t mean much this early in the season, but symbolically it shows they’re at least back in the hunt after falling as far as six games under .500 in mid-May.

Regardless of the standings, though, Oakland’s recent performance was enough on its own to earn back some fan confidence. The starting rotation stepped up, and the offense woke up after a long slump — they’ve averaged 6.5 runs and 2.3 homers over their last 14 games, even without Khris Davis for most of that time. The bullpen still leads the AL in blown saves, but they at least enjoyed a two-week stretch without any (until last night against the Astros). Every area of the roster provided a reminder about why this club is a contender.

Perhaps the team’s three losses immediately after this week’s survey would have dragged down the results, but all of those big-picture positive trends are more important than a couple of bad games. And besides, Davis came back from the IL on Saturday, providing a spark of good news amid a few frustrating defeats.

The A’s 93% confidence rating ranks them seventh among the 30 fanbases. They’re behind only the Astros, Twins, Phillies, Padres (all four at 100%), Rays (97%), and Brewers (94%), all of whom are fellow contenders and three of whom lead their divisions. The Nationals at a flimsy 6% bring up the rear.

When the confidence rating bottomed out at 51%, we also asked an extra question about how worried folks were about the A’s slow start. At that time, 86% were either moderately worried (55%) or extremely worried (31%). Tip of the cap to those patient few who kept the fAith amid the shaky early going! Granted, it could still all go wrong again in the blink of an eye, but the point is that the slow start turned out to be a small-sample mirage and was quickly reversed just like it usually is when the A’s have contender-level talent.

Meanwhile, nothing has changed in terms of fan support for manager Bob Melvin. The skipper polled at 93% as well, one point higher than last week, and he’s stayed around that level all season. He’s finished between 85-100% in every survey.

Finally, this week’s national question was once again about the upcoming MLB draft. This time the topic was international players, and the vast majority of fans believe they should be part of the draft instead of their own separate marketplace — a stance I agree with.

On one hand, the international market doesn’t favor richer teams as much as it used to, now that there are strict caps on spending. On the other hand, that reduction in payday also removes one of the main benefits to keeping them out of the draft, which was that they could earn more as free agents — gone are the days of $31 million for Yoan Moncada, or $26 million for Luis Robert. In fact, the top draft prospects can now command more than the priciest Latin amateurs.

I’m sure there are plenty of other factors at play, and unforeseen consequences to consider, so this could well be a fascinating discussion rather than a slam-dunk. Perhaps my mind could even be changed with a great enough argument. But I’d be starting that conversation on the side of including everyone in the draft.