Tuesday, November 20, 2007

But what about Steve Balboni and Harold Reynolds?

According to a forthcoming academic paper, one of the reasons Dave Kingman struck out a lot is that his last name started with "K".

No, really.

The study, by Leif Nelson and Joseph Simmons, says that batters whose names started with "K" struck out 18.8% of the time, as compared to only 17.2% for everyone else. That result is statistically significant, the authors say.

Also, students whose names begin with "C" and "D" are more likely to get Cs and Ds, especially if they say they like their initials. And the November 19 issue of Sports Illustrated also points out (page 30) the connection between Barry Bonds' initials and one of his all-time records.

The paper will appear in "Psychological Science." Any sabermetrically-inclined psychologists with access to this paper should feel free to send it along when it comes out.


UPDATE: in the comments, Tango points to a post by David Gassko, who ran a similar study for all the letters of the alphabet. Gassko found that some letters are even more strikeout-prone than K.

(By the way, the reason the results are statistically significant is that the null hypothesis -- that players whose names start with J have exactly the same skills as players whose names don't start with J -- is false.)

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At Tuesday, November 20, 2007 6:34:00 AM, Blogger Tyrus Chen said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At Tuesday, November 20, 2007 10:01:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

D, S, and N beats K, according to Gassko

At Tuesday, November 20, 2007 11:53:00 AM, Blogger jfpbookworm said...

Did they take heritage into account? I'm wondering what you'd see if (for example) you separated out players from Latin America vs. players from the U.S. K, for instance, is going to have virtually no Latin American players.

At Tuesday, November 20, 2007 4:59:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outside of David Berri's book this is the stupidest work in sports economics I've ever heard of. If you have a big enough sample size you'll always reject the null hypothesis. This is why economic vs statistical significance matter.

At Monday, November 26, 2007 3:08:00 AM, Blogger Pizza Cutter said...

For what it's worth, Psychological Science is a garbage journal.


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