Kenshin Kawakami (川上 憲伸) (born June 22, 1975) is a Japanese former professional baseball pitcher. He played in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) for the Chunichi Dragons and in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Atlanta Braves.

Kenshin Kawakami
Kawakami with the Atlanta Braves in 2009
Born: (1975-06-22) June 22, 1975 (age 48)
Tokushima, Tokushima, Japan
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
Professional debut
NPB: April 9, 1998, for the Chunichi Dragons
MLB: April 11, 2009, for the Atlanta Braves
Last appearance
MLB: September 9, 2010, for the Atlanta Braves
NPB: 2014, for the Chunichi Dragons
NPB statistics
Win–loss record117–76
Earned run average3.24
MLB statistics
Win–loss record8–22
Earned run average4.32
Career highlights and awards

Japanese career


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


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 pitching for the Atlanta Braves in 2009

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]

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.[5] 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.[6]

During the 2010 season, a group of fans would dress as "Kenshin's Geishas" to support Kawakami during homestands.[7]

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.[8]

Kawakami struggled with injury upon 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 seven starts during 2012 and 1–1 with a 3.21 ERA in five starts during 2013.[9] Due to shoulder pain, he did not make his first start in 2013 until 22 August.[10]

On 22 November 2013, the Chunichi Dragons announced that they had signed Kawakami to a 1-year extension.[11] However he only managed six starts in 2014 and was not resigned for the 2015 season, he announced his retirement in October 2015.[12]

Pitching style


Kawakami throws a fastball around 90 mph (tops out at 94), shuuto (sinker), slow curveball, splitter, and a good cutter.[13]

Outside baseball


In response to the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Kawakami donated $50,000 to relief efforts.[14]


  1. ^ "Braves land Japanese ace Kawakami". January 10, 2009. Retrieved January 10, 2009.
  2. ^ "Atlanta agrees to terms with Japanese pitcher Kenshin Kawakami". Archived from the original on June 16, 2011. Retrieved April 21, 2023.
  3. ^ "Kawakami shuts down Nationals in major league debut as Braves win". April 11, 2009. Retrieved April 13, 2009.
  4. ^ "Kawakami faces down Dice-K, Sox". Retrieved April 21, 2023.
  5. ^ "Tigers vs. Braves - Game Recap - June 26, 2010 - ESPN".
  6. ^ "Braves outright Kawakami to Double-A | News". Archived from the original on November 17, 2010.
  7. ^ "Oh No, no, no, no". May 14, 2010.
  8. ^ "Kenshin Kawakami is headed back to Japan". January 27, 2012.
  9. ^ "川上 憲伸(中日ドラゴンズ) | 個人年度別成績".
  10. ^ "戦力外の中日・川上にDeNAら複数球団興味". Sponichi (in Japanese). October 4, 2013.
  11. ^ "中日ドラゴンズ 公式サイト - ドラゴンズニュース ★川上憲伸投手と契約".
  12. ^ "Ex-Dragons hurler Kawakami announces retirement". Japan Times. October 20, 2015. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  13. ^ "Player Card: Kenshin Kawakami". Brooks Baseball. Retrieved November 29, 2014.
  14. ^ Rogers, Carroll (March 20, 2011). "Kawakami donates $50,000 to relief efforts in Japan". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on March 22, 2011. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
Preceded by Central League Best Nine Award for Pitcher
Succeeded by