The Twins will play their first buzz-worthy series since 2010 this week against the Royals.

A temporary stint in first place is at stake, but either team could get swept and still win the division or make the playoffs, so this isn't exactly do-or-die stuff.

What it is is a reminder of how thrilling good baseball can be.

What's fascinating about this Twins team is that it is winning without its top prospects - Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Alex Meyer, Jose Berrios _ or its most-expensive free agents, in Ervin Santana and Ricky Nolasco.

So what could the Twins' lineup look like if they are playing meaningful games in August and September?

Here's a part-guess, part-wish list:

1. CF Byron Buxton: He might be the fastest Twin ever. His speed will improve outfield defense that has already been improved over last year, and enable him to steal bases while still learning how to read high-level pitchers.

2. 1B Joe Mauer: He has the skill-set of a No. 2 hitter. He can draw walks and pull the ball through the right side when a runner is being held. He can hit-and-run and use the whole field. His lack of power will still be galling, but it won't matter as much in this slot as it does now in the three-hole.

3. 2B Brian Dozier: He's their best all-around player and has been their best home-run hitter for three years. This will ensure he'll bat in every first inning, and bat more often with runners on base.

4. 3B Trevor Plouffe: Despite his recent slump, he has generally taken excellent at-bats in big situations, and can drive the  ball to any part of the park.

5. 1B Kennys Vargas: The switch-hitter gives the Twins lefthanded pop in the middle of their best righthanded hitters and should produce more power by accident than the other No. 5 hitters have produced with intent.

6. RF Torii Hunter: The Twins would finally have a quality No. 6 hitter.

7. LF: Oswaldo Arcia, Eddie Rosario, Aaron Hicks or Miguel Sano: This will be a fascinating competition. Sano has the most power but will have to adapt to becoming an outfielder after concentrating on third base for so long. Rosario is skilled but doesn't project to be a star. Arcia has plenty of raw power but is erratic. Hicks, combined with Buxton and Hunter, would give the Twins exceptional outfield defense and range. If Sano gets hot at Double A, this may be his spot.

8. C Kurt Suzuki: Not having a good season at the plate but is capable of putting together good at-bats.

9. SS Danny Santana: Eduardo Escobar will get a chance to seize this job, but the Twins are a better team when Santana is displaying his speed on the bases and in the field, and he and Buxton would put on quite a track meet in front of the meat of the order.


1. Mike Pelfrey: Just go with it.

2. Ervin Santana: Hard to know whether he'll come back fresh or rusty.

3. Phil Hughes: Wtih the schedule toughening, the Twins need Hughes to start pitching like he did last season.

4. Kyle Gibson: An awfully good No. 4 if he keeps this up.

5. Trevor May: An awfully good No. 5 if he keeps this up.

I don't see Nolasco cracking this group, if everyone is healthy, and I see Tommy Milone as organizational depth. This group would also allow the  Twins to be patient with Alex Meyer and Jose Berrios, with Meyer currently working out of the bullpen and Berrios still in Class AA.


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