Kawakami with the Atlanta Braves
|Chunichi Dragons – No. 11|
June 22, 1975 |
Tokushima, Tokushima, Japan
|NPB: April 9, 1998 for the Chunichi Dragons|
|MLB: April 11, 2009 for the Atlanta Braves|
|Earned run average||3.22|
(through 2010 season)
|Earned run average||4.32|
|Career highlights and awards|
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
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. 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.
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.
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 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. Having not pitched since 2010, Kawakami is first eligible for Hall of Fame ballots in 2016.
During the 2010 season, a group of fans would dress as "Kenshin's Geishas" to support Kawakami during homestands.
Return to Japan
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.
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. Due to shoulder pain, he did not make his first start in 2013 until 22 August. 
On 22 November 2013, The Chunichi Dragons announced that they had signed Kawakami to a 1-year extension.
- "Braves land Japanese ace Kawakami". ajc.com. 2009-01-10. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
- Atlanta agrees to terms with Japanese pitcher Kenshin Kawakami
- "Kawakami shuts down Nationals in major league debut as Braves win". espn.com. 2009-04-11. Retrieved 2009-04-13.
- Kawakami faces down Dice-K, Sox
- "Player Card: Kenshin Kawakami". Brooks Baseball. Retrieved 29 November 2014.
- Rogers, Carroll (2011-03-20). "Kawakami donates $50,000 to relief efforts in Japan". Atlanta Journal-Constitution (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution). Retrieved 2011-03-21.
- Nippon Professional Baseball career statistics from Japanesebaseball.com
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Japanese league stats, info, and links for Kenshin Kawakami by JapaneseBallPlayers.com
|Central League Best Nine Award for Pitcher