Luis Rojas understands the difference between pontificating and teaching

Luis Rojas - The Teacher (USA Today)

Luis Rojas spent last year as the Mets Quality Control Coach. Along the way, he uncovered the secrets to the art of teaching – and he won’t stop now.

Luis Rojas has been hiding in broad daylight, patiently waiting for the Mets to find him. They finally did, and that’s all that matters.

Yesterday, as the Mets formally opened their Spring Training camp in Port St. Lucie, Florida, Rojas was asked what it was like last year to be the first appointee in a newly created position by the Mets. He didn’t need to think before answering:

“I grew up a lot last year, especially developing the new role. So as the season went along, it kind of took more shape, and we developed new in-house systems that will simplify more of our information.” Deesha Thosar, New York Daily News
Analytics Axiom - Keep It Simple (Manda Naturals)
Analytics Axiom – Keep It Simple (Manda Naturals)

Strike everything except one word – simplify. Because if nothing else, teaching is about the transfer of knowledge in a simplified manner to those wishing to learn.

And we’ll come back to that last phrase “those withing to learn” because that’s important too.

Luis Rojas – The Last In A Line Of Fire

In his job last year, Rojas was faced with the mass of data and information available in the ever-growing universe of analytics.

As the last person in the line from those whose job was to gather the information on down to the person whose job was to work directly with Mets players, Rojas knew he needed to develop a way to “teach” what he had learned.

What good would it do, for instance, if Rojas were to whip out a chart showing Pete Alonso the percentage of balls he hit to various parts of the field – telling him here, for homework tonight, take this home and study it. If you have any questions, let me know.

Bad teachers show off. Good teachers communicate in ways their students understand and comprehend the why behind the how.

Luis Rojas is still a work in progress, and it remains to be seen how much of his time will be taken with other duties as manager of the Mets.

But one thing seems clear – he does not want to leave what he learned last year behind.

Rojas – Discerning Where Time Is Best Served

Wilson Ramos, Catcher, New York Mets Photo Credit: Steve Nesius/Associated Press
Wilson Ramos, Catcher, New York Mets Photo Credit: Steve Nesius/Associated Press

Most, but not all, players are open to receiving information that may benefit their game and career.

Veterans like 10-year big-league catcher Wilson Ramos encourage young players, especially to take advantage of the opportunity analytics affords them.

“It’s a different game of baseball we’ve been playing now. That’s what I talk about with my friends, with my family. I’ve been talking with a lot of kids, for a long time now, and baseball is not the same as before. There’s a lot of things we have to use for our benefit.”

Still, as I learned over two decades in the teaching profession, it’s futile when you attempt to put a square peg in a round hole.

Referring back to the note made earlier, a student needs to present themself as wishing to learn.

Some may consider this insensitive, but as a teacher, you work first with those students, before the ones who require your motivational skills, a much tougher nut to crack.

Luis Rojas, if he hasn’t already, will learn the players he can set aside. Take someone like Jeff McNeil, who is gifted with extreme hand-to-eye coordination skills. McNeil’s approach to hitting is already simplified – “See the ball, and hit it with authority”.

Amed Rosario, Shortstop, New York Mets (Photo: New York Post)
Amed Rosario, Shortstop, New York Mets (Photo: New York Post)

Others like Amed Rosario may find a piece here, and another bit there as something to think about.

And that’s all Rojas can attempt to do with someone like Rosario, asking him, “Have you noticed this?” – “Were you aware that every time you swung at a 1-2 slider, you…”?

Luis Rojas – Skilled As A Secret Weapon

Luis Rojas provides an extra weapon for the Mets to utilize that the team didn’t have in 2019 for position players.

Significantly, he does not appear the type to pontificate, by imparting the mass of information at his disposal in formalized team meetings with his players.

But if there are players who want him to go to work for them, he is capable and willing to do so.

“Teaching” is not a skill typically applied to today’s crop of major league managers. Luis Rojas has, through his diligence last year, added to the resume he brings to the Mets as their manager.

It behooves the Mets players to take advantage of the opportunity.

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.