Josh Lueke has a back story, but much like anyone else that made a mistake and paid penance that time is in the past. Unfortunately, the memory of his misdeeds lingers longer than others for some folks. The boys in blue stopped wearing that color years ago, but it hasn’t stopped them from being the morality police in baseball. We can see this in how borderline calls are made for or against Josh Lueke:
There’s a lot going on here, but first let me point out that the strike zones constructed are based on the fantastic work previously published by John Walsh that delves into the actual strike zone that is called. The blue zone (and pitches) correspond to righties while the red is reserved for their left-handed counterparts. Circles indicate fastballs, diamonds are for his splitter, and squares indicate his slider. Lueke is a right-hander so think of his fastball and split coming in moving from right to left and the slider operating in the opposite.
In 2013 he had 140 called balls, but we can see that a full 16.4% of those (23) were within the commonly called zone. While many of those pitches are on the fringes, there are more than a few that are well within the zone. On the year, the Rays saw roughly 11.5% of their called balls within the common zone, yet Lueke treks into lands unseen. He easily led the team:
The numbers 2, 3, and 4 indicate how many parts of the specific zone the pitch caught so anything in the 2 column was within two of the parameters and so on. ScB stands for Strikes called Balls and is simply the pitches that caught all 4 parameters divided by the total number of called balls. While some other guys saw some unfortunate calls go against them, nobody is near Lueke. Not even the great and powerful Molina could help him as here’s the breakout for each catcher:
Perhaps in 2014 umps will be willing to actually call the zone they call for virtually everyone else and leave the past where it belongs, but it’s anyone’s guess if Lueke will even get the chance, at this point.