Grading the week: Royals on the rise

Things are looking up for the boys in baby blue lately. (USATSI)
Things are looking up for the boys in baby blue lately. (USATSI)

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Another week of baseball is in the books, which means it's time for our weekly grades. As a reminder, we're pretty flexible with our grades. We grade individual series, teams, players, coaches, umpires, whatever. We try to stick to the usual A through F scale but will make exceptions from time to time (like this week, for instance). To state the bleeding obvious, five grades means that any number of notable team and individual performances won't be represented herein ... 

A+ The hard-charging Royals went 6-0 this week, sweeping the Diamondbacks on the road and the Giants at home. Overall, the Royals have won seven in a row (and 10 of 11), and over the course of that win streak they've outscored the opposition by a count of 42-15. More to the point, KC was eight games out on July 21, but now they Royals are only a half game behind the first-place Tigers in the AL Central.
A+ Denard Span of the Nationals. Span's fifth-inning double against the Braves on Sunday night pushed his hitting streak to 14 games and his on-base streak to 36 games. Span entered Sunday night's tilt having gone 13 for 28 for the week and having lifted his 2014 OPS+ to 114. That's of course in addition to his excellent defense and baserunning.
A- The O's took two of three in Toronto and then took two of three at home against the reigning NL champion Cardinals. Considering the level of competition, that's a quality week. The Orioles aren't getting the attention that some other contenders are, but they now have the largest division lead in baseball. They're also on pace for 93 wins.
D- The Giants dropped two of three to the Brewers in Milwaukee and then, as mentioned, got swept in KC by the Royals. Strength of schedule is the only thing that spares them from an F for the week. The Giants are now 4½ back in the NL West and (narrowly) out of wild-card position.
F Xander Bogaerts. The Boston shortstop went 2 for 23 this week, and he has now seen his 2014 batting line drop to .230/.295/.349. The promising Bogaerts is still just 21, and not having a set position thus far has surely hurt his development. That said, it has been a disappointing rookie campaign for him in any context.
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