Overview: The Twins tied for the American League lead with 233 home runs and were fourth in OPS (.753), but struck out a major league record 1,654 times. Toronto had a better batting average (.253-.246) but scored fewer runs (778-746).
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays: Led Toronto in HRs (26) and RBI (94) and was an All-Star for the third consecutive season.
Alex Kirilloff, Twins: Chronic wrist injury no longer a bother, he had opposite-field power and hit 11 HRs with 41 RBI in 88 games.
Cavan Biggio, Blue Jays: Lefthanded hitter likely starter vs. righties. Hit .235 with nine HRs. Whit Merrifield could start here; the versatile vet was an All-Star who led the Jays with 26 steals.
Jorge Polanco, Twins: Limited to 80 games because of injury (14 HRs, 48 RBI) and will play third if Royce Lewis can't. Rookie 2B Edouard Julien had an eye-opening season (.840 OPS) but figures to sit if a lefty starts.
Bo Bichette, Blue Jays: Hit .306 with 20 HRs and a team-high .814 OPS. Has led the AL in hits twice.
Carlos Correa, Twins: Team's highest-paid player was hampered by plantar fasciitis, hit .230 and grounded into a franchise-record 30 double plays.
Matt Chapman, Blue Jays: Dramatic drop in production, from 27 HRs and 76 RBI in 2022 to 17 HRs and 54 RBI this year, but he's a three-time Gold Glove winner.
Royce Lewis, Twins: Showed signs of stardom (.920 OPS, .309 average, 15 HRs in 58 games) in his rookie season, which included four grand slams. Battling hamstring injury, will DH if he can't play in the field.
Daulton Varsho, Blue Jays: Acquired in an offseason trade with Arizona, he hit 20 HRs but batted only .222.
Matt Wallner, Twins: Another rookie who emerged as a regular after being called up from St. Paul; he showed ringing power (.507 slugging percentage).
Kevin Kiermaier, Blue Jays: Three-time Gold Glove winner known as HR robber hit .265 with six triples in 129 games.
Michael A. Taylor, Twins: Offseason addition to back up Byron Buxton, Taylor was an everyday player when Buxton could only DH. The former Gold Glover had 21 HRs.
George Springer, Blue Jays: Four-time All-Star and team's highest paid player won a ring with the Astros in 2017; had a career-low .732 OPS.
Max Kepler, Twins: A great second half has Kepler streaking into playoffs. Led the Twins in HRs (24) and RBI (66).
Alejandro Kirk, Blue Jays: Coming off an All-Star season, his average fell to .250 and he had only eight HRs in 123 games.
Ryan Jeffers, Twins: Improved defensively, and had breakout offensive season (.276 average, .859 OPS). Could rotate with Christian Vázquez.
Brandon Belt, Blue Jays: After 12 seasons with the Giants, the lefthanded hitter signed with Toronto and hit 19 HRs in 103 games.
Lewis or Julien, Twins: Lewis' injury might limit him to DHing, but rookie Julien will probably play second if that's the case. Julien has a 2.8 WAR, highest among the team's position players.
Blue Jays: Biggio played 111 games and seven positions. Whit Merrifield struggled in the second half. Santiago Espinal has been a reliable infielder. C Danny Jansen (17 HRs) is on the IL. 2B Davis Schneider was called up late and had eight HRs in 35 games.
Twins: Kyle Farmer (SS, 3B), Donovan Solano (1B, 2B), Vázquez and Willi Castro (infield and outfield) all played in more than 100 games and could start if Toronto elects to use a lefthanded pitcher. Castro, a switch hitter, stole a team-high 33 bases. Buxton (knee) is unlikely to make the roster.
The Twins led the majors in strikeouts (1,560) and Toronto was second (1,528). The Twins gave up the fewest runs in the AL (659) but Toronto gave up only 671. The Blue Jays had the better ERA (3.78-3.87). The Twins had a better WHIP (1.20-1.25). Toronto had four pitchers start 31 or more games; no other team had more than two.
Blue Jays: RH Kevin Gausman (12-9, 3.16, 237 K), RH Chris Bassitt (16-8, 3.60, 186 K), RH José Berríos (11-12, 3.65, 184 K), LH Yusei Kikuchi (11-6, 3.86, 181 K).
Gausman used his devastating splitter to lead the league in strikeouts and will start Game 1. Berríos was a two-time All-Star with the Twins before going to the Jays at the 2021 trade deadline. Kikuchi provides a lefthanded option.
Twins: RH Pablo López (11-8, 3.66, 234 K), RH Sonny Gray (8-8, 2.79, 183 K), RH Joe Ryan (11-10, 4.51, 197 K), RH Kenta Maeda (6-8, 4.23, 117 K).
López was second in the AL in strikeouts and Gray was second (behind Gerrit Cole) in ERA. The third game starter is undecided; Bailey Ober has been sharper than Ryan or Maeda but seems likely to be left off the roster after pitching Sunday.
Blue Jays: Toronto got RH Jordan Hicks (1.08 WHIP) from St. Louis at the trade deadline to set up RH Jordan Romano (36 saves in 40 chances). RH Erik Swanson, LH Tim Mayza and RH Yimi García got a lot of work. Bullpen ERA is 3.67.
Twins: RH Jhoan Duran was 27-for-32 in save opportunities. RH Brock Stewart is rebounding from arm injury and RH Griffin Jax has been uneven and unlucky (10 losses in 71 appearances). RH Louie Varland had an impressive September, and Maeda could factor in as well. Bullpen ERA is 3.96.
John Schneider, Toronto: Led the Jays to the playoffs in both of his seasons; they were swept by Seattle last year.
Rocco Baldelli, Twins: The 2019 AL Manager of the Year is 375-333 in five seasons, and 0-5 in the playoffs.
The Twins have lost 18 consecutive playoff games, a North American sports record. Breaking that streak is the first step. López and Gray give them a strong 1-2 combo, but beating Gausman is probably the key. With the home-field advantage, Twins in three.