Even if the Rangers finish with a slightly better record, the Red Sox have performed better this season. Plus, their recently snapped 11-game winning streak shows Boston is playing as well as anyone at the moment, giving them momentum charging into the postseason. Even without home-field advantage, the Red Sox would be given decent odds of topping the Rangers if they meet in the ALCS.
You can even argue that Boston’s odds of beating Texas without home-field are better than their chances of beating Toronto or Detroit with the advantage. Both teams have superior run differentials and similar road records to the Rangers. It’s not unfathomable to think that either team could beat Texas in a five-game series. If that were to happen, in conjunction with Boston beating Cleveland, it would set the Red Sox up with home-field advantage in the ALCS without needing to finish the season with the best record.
Home-field certainly has it’s benefits, but a Red Sox team that has been a road warrior all season doesn’t necessarily need it to advance to the World Series. An easier path through the first round is more important, so exploiting an injury plagued Cleveland team is Boston’s best shot at a deep playoff run.
Settling for second place in the regular season may be just what the Red Sox need to finish first in the postseason. In the end, that’s all that matters.