Edgar Martinez reached the 100-RBI mark in seven seasons. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)
It's the most wonderful time of the year: Hall of Fame ballots arrived this month.
Gentlemen, start your scathing e-mails.
This year's ballot will be different, personally speaking.
Rather than the usual four, maybe five names on a ballot, there are seven on my 2010 dance card.
In alphabetical order: Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines and Alan Trammell.
That's a lot of nominees, all because three first-time candidates -- Alomar, Larkin, and Martinez -- made it, with Martinez the most unlikely based upon past attitudes.
I never expected to vote for a guy who was a designated hitter, who never came close to 3,000 hits, and who missed by a mile reaching 400 home runs.
But that's why it's important to study, consult and do your homework before filling out the ballot.
It's a privilege best exercised with an open mind.
Martinez won a pair of batting titles and is the only DH to ever have done so. Most significantly for me, he is one of only eight players in baseball history to have hit 300 homers, 500 doubles, have a career batting average above .300 (.312), a career on-base percentage in excess of .400 (.418), and a slugging percentage north of .500 (.515).
So, there you have it. Martinez makes it. It wasn't his fault balky knees restricted him to the DH role. What mattered is how he did his job spanning 18 seasons. And he hit with Hall of Fame distinction.
The rest of the nominees were both easier and tougher.
Conspicuous by his absence is Jack Morris.
I understand those who vote for him. And if ever the audience needs to know that personal feelings don't matter in these votes, Morris is Exhibit A. He was a personal favorite. But he misses by a stitch -- and only a stitch.
We'll wait and see how it all plays out next month.
The rest of Henning's ballot
2B played for seven different teams
In 12 of 22 years, SP won 14 or more games
OF won MVP in '87 -- .287, 49 HR, 137 RBIs
Ex-Wolverine made 12 All-Star games as SS
DH batted .300 10 times, 100 RBIs seven
OF topped 70 SBs four times, high of 90 in '83
Hall of Fame dates
Jan. 6: The Baseball Writers Association of America vote is announced at 2 p.m.; its ballot consists of players only -- 15 first-year candidates and 11 holdovers
July 25: Induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y.