Kenshin Kawakami

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Kenshin Kawakami
Kenshin Kawakami on August 3, 2009.jpg
Chunichi Dragons – No. 11
Pitcher
Born: (1975-06-22) June 22, 1975 (age 38)
Tokushima, Tokushima, Japan
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Professional debut
NPB: April 9, 1998 for the Chunichi Dragons
MLB: April 11, 2009 for the Atlanta Braves
NPB statistics
Win–loss 112–72
Earned run average 3.22
Strikeouts 1,328
MLB statistics
(through 2010 season)
Wins–losses 8–22
Earned run average 4.32
Strikeouts 164
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Kenshin Kawakami (川上 憲伸) (born June 22, 1975) is a right-handed Japanese professional baseball starting pitcher for the Chunichi Dragons of Japan's Central League.

Japanese career[edit]

He originally pitched for the Chunichi Dragons of the Central League. Kawakami was the Rookie of the Year in 1998 as he went 14-6 with a 2.57 ERA. He helped the Dragons to the Central League Title in 1999, but would lose in the Japan Series in 5 games to the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks. He has pitched a no-hitter in his professional career. In 2004, Kawakami went 17-7 and led Chunichi to the Central League Title, though they fell to the Seibu Lions in 7 games in the Japan Series. That year, Kawakami was named Central League MVP and received the Eiji Sawamura Award as Japan's best pitcher. Kawakami again won 17 games in 2006 and led the Dragons to the Central League title again, winning Game 1 of the Japan Series against the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

In 2007, Kawakami helped the Dragons end a streak of 53 years without a championship as they beat the Nippon Ham Fighters in 5 games.

Major League Baseball career[edit]

On January 13, 2009, Kawakami signed a three-year deal with the Atlanta Braves. [1][2]

Kenshin Kawakami threw his first game as an Atlanta Brave on February 26 in a Spring Training game against the Pirates. Kawakami pitched two innings allowing one hit and striking out one batter.

Kawakami pitched his first Major League game on April 11, 2009 against the Washington Nationals. He picked up his first Major League win, giving up 3 earned runs, and striking out 8 in 6 innings.[3] On May 22 and against countryman Daisuke Matsuzaka at Fenway Park, he limited the Boston Red Sox to two hits and two earned runs in six innings and helped the Braves begin a 13-game stretch with an 8-2 win over the Red Sox.[4]

A video game version of Kawakami helped Wade McGilberry from Mobile, Alabama win $1 million as part of the Major League Baseball 2K10 Perfect Game Challenge. McGilberry used Kawakami to pitch a perfect game in Major League Baseball 2K10, and won the contest by being the first person to do so in accordance with the contest rules.[5]

Kawakami went 1-10 in 2010 and recorded nine straight losses before picking up his first win on June 26 against the Detroit Tigers at Turner Field[6] He pitched seven innings with six strikeouts in a 4-3 win for the Braves. After being sent to the bullpen, Kawakami only pitched once in 40 games, where he performed poorly, allowing 2 runs in one inning. On November 12, following the season, the Braves outrighted Kawakami to their Double-A affiliate, the Mississippi Braves.[7]

During the 2010 season, a group of fans would dress as "Kenshin's Geishas" to support Kawakami during homestands.[8]

Return to Japan[edit]

After spending the entirety of the 2011 season pitching at the AA level for the Mississippi Braves, Kawakami agreed to a contract with his previous team, the Chunichi Dragons of Japan's Central League.[9]

Kawakami has struggled with injury since his return to the Dragons, making only a combined 12 starts during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. He went 3-1 with a 2.83 in 7 starts during 2012 and 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA in 5 starts during 2013. [10] Due to shoulder pain, he did not make his first start in 2013 until 22 August. [11]

On 22 November 2013, The Chunichi Dragons announced that they had signed Kawakami to a 1-year extension. [12]

Pitching style[edit]

Kawakami is known as a crafty veteran who is said to throw a 90 MPH fastball (hits 94 MPH), a slow curveball, sinker, splitter, and a good cutter.[citation needed]

Outside baseball[edit]

In response to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Kawakami donated $50,000 to relief efforts.[13]

References[edit]

External links[edit]


Awards
Preceded by
Kei Igawa
Hiroki Kuroda
Central League Best Nine Award for Pitcher
2004
2006
Succeeded by
Hiroki Kuroda
Hisanori Takahashi