From a Newsweek article about an upcoming jounal article by a couple of psychologists:
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.
This comment on the Newsweek site sums up my feelings:
If you survey enough sets of numbers you get random patterns that don’t always come out even. For example, the information about batters is really incomplete. It isn’t sufficient to just compare K against everybody else. Look at the entire alphabet and you will probably see variations of one or two percent between the letters. They won’t all come out the same. Does Q do better than F? Does C do better than M? If so, what does that really mean? Why aren’t they comparing S for strikeout? And what about the name of the pitcher? If it counts for the batter, why doesn’t it also count for the pitcher? This is not a question that can even be really addressed in isolation from everything else.