Thursday, November 8, 2007

Study: "K" Players Strikeout More Often

Here's something interesting (and rather strange) from A study done by two professors, one at the University of California, San Diego, and one at Yale, found that your name actually may affect the choices you make in life. They postulate, and I guess, through their study, prove, that there is some correlation (and perhaps causation) that those people whose names start with, say the letter "J" are more likely to drive a Jeep than a Saturn because it shares the same letter as their first name. I'm not making this up. They even studied baseball to help prove their theory.

Even weirder, they gravitate toward things that begin with their initials even when those things are undesirable, like bad grades or a baseball strikeout.

In what they call “moniker maladies,” a pair of researchers find that although no baseball player wants to strike out, players whose names begin with K (scorecard shorthand for a strikeout) fan more often than other players.

If the preference for people, places and things that share one of your initials is conscious, then it shouldn’t work if the thing you’re choosing is basically undesirable. Strikeouts are undesirable. Yet based on data from 1913 through 2006, for the 6,397 players with at least 100 plate appearances, “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%),” the researchers find. The reason, they suggest, is that players whose first or last name starts with K like their initial so much that “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 avoid striking out less enthusiastically.” Granted, 18.8% vs. 17.2% is not a huge difference, but it was statistically significant—that is, not likely to be due to chance.

"Statistically significant" in math talk, maybe, but maybe, the two are really unrelated. Ken Griffey Jr. may take issue with the study, as might Keith Hernandez and Kenny Lofton.

Interesting, but I don't think GM's need to start forming new theories on which players to sign, based on the letters in their names, just yet. Though it does open the door to a lot of questions. What about players whose names start with the letter "S" do they strike out more? Did Hank Aaron hit so many home runs because his name starts with "H"? Did Pete Rose have significantly more pop-ups than other players? What about Ricky Henderson? Did he steal more bases because he liked to run? What about closers? Are they more likely to have "C" names? Inquiring minds want to know.

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