Hanley, was at one time one of the most hated players in Boston. He was freshly signed to a contract by Ben Cherington, and had a lot of hype around him. I think we can discredit most of his first year woes on account of him being slapped out in left field, a foreign position to him. He became disliked very quickly, but the thing about a lot of Boston sports fans is that sure, they hate you when you're down, but they forgive and forget and absolutely love you when you're doing good. Hanley made the switch to first base last year, and I will admit he shocked me with how good his glove was. I know he was an MLB shortstop, but still his defense was amazing. His WAR (wins above replacement), was at the 2.8 mark for 2016. (-1.3 in 2015) His OPS (on base plus slugging) was .866, which was his best since 2014, and better than his career average of .861. His OPS in 2015 was .717 so his 2016 season was a huge step up. He also dropped 30 bombs last year, 11 more than in 2015. Lets not forget about the walk off he absolutely crushed off Betances. It was a three run shot that propelled the Red Sox into an 11-game winning streak that ultimately won the division and, made them play off bound (See Below).
Sure, Hanley was way better last season, but I could see him hitting 35 homers this year. I think his average will be around .305. (.286 last year) Hanley won't have to face the daily grind of playing first base like last year, and he will be more than rested, and able to step in and play first base every now and then. Hanley likes playing defense there is no doubt about that, so sure its possible his mind won't be as focused on the game as it would be if he was on defense. However I don't think it will affect him that bad, it certainly didn't Ortiz. I think he will have a revamped veteran "this is my team" mentality and take over for Ortiz.
Hanley just has a likable personality. Who can forget the video of him laughing hysterically at the video of him CRUSHING the walk off. Hanley is the type of player a lot of teams wish they had: a veteran, power hitting, great clubhouse guy. Hanley shot to the top of the ladder among Red Sox fans. I'm excited for the season and for Hanley. Hopefully this year brings a title to Boston. There will be a weight on Hanley's shoulders, but with Ortiz's guidance there is no doubt he can, and will perform.