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Fan confidence strong as Oakland A’s enter second half on a roll

The A’s went 14-5 to finish the first half of 2019.

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/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 88% approval, one point higher than the previous week.

Oakland’s first half was a bit of a roller coaster, but it ended well. Between a leaky bullpen and some key injuries in the lineup, they had trouble making a sustained push up the standings in April and May. Then the loss of their ace starting pitcher to a drug suspension in June threatened to derail the rest of the season. However, they suddenly went on a roll to finish off that month and continued it through early July and into the All-Star break, and now their fortunes look much more optimistic.

Pick your preference as to how to frame the recent hot streak. The A’s finished the half by going 21-11 since early June, or by going 18-8, or 14-5, or 9-3, or 7-2. Whichever endpoint you choose looks great, and the whole thing includes successful matchups against playoff contenders in the Twins and Rays as well as decent .500ish opponents like the Cardinals and Angels.

Even better, they did this winning in encouraging ways. The bullpen seems to have settled down, led by newly minted All-Star closer Liam Hendriks, plus the quietly excellent Yusmeiro Petit. Opening Day starter Mike Fiers stepped up and is now leading the rotation, with a 2.52 ERA since late-April and 11 quality starts in his last 13 tries. And the lineup continues to hammer dingers, with contributions coming from all over the diamond.

There’s still a lot of season left, with plenty that can go wrong. On top of that, some of the reinforcements we were hoping for aren’t coming just yet, most notably top pitching prospect Jesus Luzardo who is out until at least August. But the A’s enter the second half of the season nine games over .500 at 50-41, and with a lot to like about the current roster as well as the Triple-A lineup behind them in Las Vegas. This is a team that deserves the fan confidence they are now seeing.

The 88% mark is the fifth-highest in the majors this week. The Astros (100%), Braves (97), Padres (96), and Twins (90) are the only teams with higher ratings from their fans, though the rebuilding Blue Jays and Marlins both matched that 88% and a few others finished close at 87.

Fans were asked about manager Bob Melvin as well, and everyone still loves him. His approval rating climbed up to 93%, which is down from 97% last week, but only in the way that an A is technically a worse grade than an A+ in school.

As for the national question, it had to do with starting pitchers on the trade market. There were five arms to choose from on the survey, and Trevor Bauer got the nod as the one for whom folks would give up the most in a swap. Here’s what our friends at Baseball Trade Values think these five players are worth in a deal:

  • Bauer: 39.2
  • Boyd: 34.4
  • Stroman: 26.8
  • Wheeler: 12.6
  • Bumgarner: 11.6

Personally, I voted Boyd. He only comes in second place according to BTV, but it’s close, and I’m calling an audible in favor of gambling on the lefty who has less name power and more years of team control. However, the general public is less enthused about him, which is fair enough since Bauer and Bumgernar are clearly the most famous names on the list so I’m not surprised to see them get the most attention.

Bumgarner’s past playoff heroics will have folks clamoring for him until he either turns 50 or his arm literally falls off, whichever comes first. A case could even be made that he’s the best target for a 2019 contender, if you believe he’ll get hot in October again and bring home one of those flags that flies forever. However, as a pure two-month rental with a current injury scare, there is really no good argument to make for giving up the most to get him out of this list of options.