Ten Years of the RAB Fan Confidence Poll

Ten Years of the RAB Fan Confidence Poll

(Chris McGrath/Getty)

I did not realize this at the time, but the ten-year anniversary of our Fan Confidence Poll was this past March 2nd. The big stories when we launched the Fan Confidence Poll? Alex Rodriguez needing hip surgery, Mark Teahen trade rumors, and CC Sabathia’s and A.J. Burnett’s Spring Training debuts. Feels like a lifetime ago.

Like pretty much everything else with RAB, I did not expect the Fan Confidence Poll to last as long as it did. I was hoping to capture a few months worth of data, maybe two or three years worth if everything went well, and now here we are a decade later. The idea is pretty self-explanatory: Take the pulse of the fanbase over a long stretch of time.

There has always been a lot of week-to-week noise in the Fan Confidence Poll. A good week will cause fan confidence to spike. Going 1-6 and getting swept by the Red Sox meant a tumble. Big trade? Series of injuries? They all have a short-term impact on fan confidence. Here’s an interactive Fan Confidence Graph and here’s an annotated version:

(1) The absolute peak of the Fan Confidence Poll is, of course, the 2009 World Series. The Yankees won the World Series on a Wednesday. The prior Monday they had a 3-1 series lead and the Fan Confidence Poll peaked at 9.27. The following week it was at 9.25. People were apparently more confident about winning the World Series before winning the World Series than after actually winning the World Series. Huh. It’s come close a few times, but fan confidence never again reached 9.00 after the 2009 World Series hangover faded away.

(2) Eyeballing it, I would’ve guessed that dip in mid-2010 was the Cliff Lee non-trade. Fan confidence went from 8.01 one week to 6.85 the next week. But nope, it was not the Lee non-trade. That came a few weeks later. That big dip came after … a series loss to the Mets? A series loss to the Mets. The Yankees dropped two of three in Citi Field to a pretty mediocre Mets squad that weekend and fans were Mad Online. Fan confidence actually increased from 8.01 to 8.48 following the Lee non-trade. It increased because fans were happy the Yankees held on to Jesus Montero. What a time to be alive. Also, Fan confidence dropped only slightly (6.99 to 6.67) when Lee signed with the Phillies that winter.

(3) The big sudden dip in 2011 (7.42 to 5.43) is one of the largest week-to-week drops in Fan Confidence Poll history and it was because the Yankees lost five in a row the previous week, including getting swept by the Red Sox over the weekend. Also, the Yankees were 3-10 in their previous 13 games at the time, and fan angst was on the rise.

(4) In the span of about an hour one January 2012 afternoon, the Yankees traded for Michael Pineda and signed Hiroki Kuroda. Questions about the rotation persisted for two straight years up to that point (remember when they went into 2011 with Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia penciled into rotation spots?), then, in one fell swoop, the Yankees added a high-upside youngster and a quality veteran on a one-year contract. Fan confidence jumped from 7.06 to 8.41.

(5) About four months later, fan confidence dropped from 7.69 to 6.07 in the span of two weeks because we learned Pineda had a torn labrum and needed season-ending surgery, and also because Mariano Rivera blew out his knee on the Kauffman Stadium warning track during batting practice. That was not a good week.

(6) The single biggest week-to-week drop in Fan Confidence Poll history came during the 2012 ALCS. The Yankees beat the Orioles in Game Five of the ALDS and fan confidence sat at 7.98. The next week it was down to 4.41. The Yankees trailed the Tigers two games to none in the ALCS and Derek Jeter broke his ankle in Game One. Gloomy postseason series situation and the captain’s devastating injury led to a massive, massive drop in fan confidence.

(7) Despite a plethora of injuries, a good start to the season had fan confidence on the rise early in 2013. As the season played out and reality set in, fan confidence dipped and eventually bottomed out at 3.06 on September 23rd, 2013. The Yankees had been eliminated from the postseason race, the roster was old and expensive, and the farm system was unproductive. As a result, fan confidence was at its lowest point during the RAB era.

(8) A busy offseason (Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Masahiro Tanaka) and Tanaka’s early season dominance had fan confidence on the rise early in 2014. However, because things went so poorly the year before, the big increase only brought fan confidence back up into the 7.00 range. Fan confidence very rarely dipped below 7.00 from 2009-12. Now the Yankees were struggling to give their fans reason to get back up to that level.

(9) Aside from a few spikes at midseason, fans never really did buy into the 2015 Yankees. They faded badly in the second half and were quickly dispatched by Dallas Keuchel and the Astros in the AL Wild Card Game. By the middle of 2016, fans were as consistently low on the Yankees as at any point in Fan Confidence Poll history. They were bad, they sat just under .500 most of the first half, and there were no indications major change was coming …

(10) … and then major change did arrive. The Yankees traded veterans for prospects at the 2016 deadline, were universally praised for their moves, and fan confidence climbed from 3.51 to 6.02 in two weeks. Two weeks after that, it sat at 6.75. Gary Sanchez arrived soon thereafter and went on a two-month assault of American League pitching. Fan confidence steadily climbed starting with the 2016 trade deadline and continuing through the 2017 season and into early 2018.

(11) Last May 7th, fan confidence hit its highest point (8.71) since April 19th, 2010 (8.93). For all intents and purposes, that was the lifespan of the rebuild transition. The Yankees won the 2009 World Series, faded a bit from 2010-12, bottomed out from 2013-16, then rose back up in 2017 and 2018. Fan confidence slipped as last season progressed because the Red Sox ran away with the AL East, and it has slipped again early this year because there are so many injuries. Given how well the Yankees have played the last two weeks or so, I would’ve expected fan confidence to rise as the Yankees got healthy.

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The week-to-week noise is inevitable. The overall trends in fan confidence across the last ten years are pretty easy to see in the graph though. Fans were feeling good about things from 2009-2012, then fan confidence really sank from 2013 to the middle of 2016. The climb from the 2016 trade deadline through 2017 is pretty neat. It is essentially a measurement of fans falling in love with Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, and all the other youngsters.

There will be no Fan Confidence Poll this week because there’s really no point with RAB shutting down today. Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote over the years, even the trolls who voted “one” each week. I hoped this little spur of the moment project back in the day would help us take pulse of the fanbase, and I think it’s done that quite well. The injuries stink, but I’m glad we’re going out on a high note with a talented young homegrown core.

Update: I’ve had a few people ask about weekly voting sample sizes and whatnot, so here’s my Fan Confidence Poll spreadsheet.

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