Across more than 90 years of professional baseball, batters whose names began with K struck out at a higher rate (in 18.8% of their plate appearances) than the remaining batters (17.2%), . . . players with the initial K struck out more often than other players even when we controlled for the average year in which each athlete played (p < .015). In fact, when we controlled for average year of play (and excluded initials associated with fewer than 5 Major League players—e.g., U as a first initial), K was both the first initial and the last initial associated with the highest strikeout rate. Furthermore, ethnic confounds are unlikely to account for the effect, as an analysis controlling for whether players were American or foreign born also showed that batters with the initial K were reliably more likely to strike out than other players were.
Their explanation is psychological:
Despite a universal desire to avoid striking out, players whose first or last names began with the letter K struck out more often than other players. For players with this initial, the explicitly negative performance outcome may feel implicitly less aversive. Even Karl ‘‘Koley’’ Kolseth would find a strikeout aversive, but he might find it a little less aversive than players who do not share his initials, and therefore he might be less motivated to avoid striking out.
This probably explains Dave Kingman pretty well. Not to mention Vince Koleman. I don’t know if I believe this, or, maybe more to the point, what it would take for me to believe this. Somehow it’s easier for me to accept the positive aspects of liking one’s own name (dentists named Dennis, lawyers named Laura, etc.) than these sorts of negative aspects. Logically, they do go together, I guess. There’s lots more of this in the Nelson and Simmons paper.