Friday, March 31, 2017

Kenshin Kawakami

Former Chunichi Dragons pitcher Kenshin Kawakami announced his retirement a few weeks back (although he apparently had also announced his retirement back in October of 2015 - I guess he reconsidered).  Kawakami was the first round pick of the Dragons in the fall 1997 draft out of Meiji University and immediately moved into the starting rotation in 1998 and was named Central League Rookie Of The Year after going 14-6 with a 2.57 ERA.  He was a mainstay of the Dragons rotation for much of the next ten seasons except when missing time for injuries.  He left the Dragons following the 2008 season for a couple seasons in the US in the Atlanta Braves organization but injuries limited his effectiveness with the Braves.  He returned to the Dragons in 2012 but injuries again limited the amount of time he spent with the ichi-gun team.  He was released by the Dragons following the 2015 season, a season that he spent entirely with the farm team.

In addition to the 1998 Rookie Of The Year Award, Kawakami won the Sawamura Award and Central League MVP in 2004, was named to the Best 9 team in 2004 and 2006 and won Golden Glove Awards in 2004, 2006 and 2007.  He lead the Central League in wins in 2004 and 2006 and strikeouts in 2006.  He made the All Star team six times - 1998, 2002, 2004-06, 2008 - and was named MVP of the 1st All Star game he ever played in (1998 Game 1).  He appeared in four Nippon Series (1999, 2004, 2006 and 2007) and won the "Fighting Spirit" Award in two of them (1999, 2006).  He also played for the 2008 Japanese Olympic baseball team.  He threw a no-hitter against the Giants in 2002.

I did a post for Kawakami back when he left for the US.  His rookie cards are #385 from the 1998 BBM set and #091 from the 1998 Calbee set and had a card in the the 1998 Takara Dragons set as well.

1998 BBM #385

1998 BBM #549

1999 BBM All Stars #A67

1999 BBM #34

2003 Chunichi Sports #11

2005 Calbee #B-02

2007 BBM Nippon Series #S02

2011 BBM Legend Of Tokyo Big Six #044

2012 BBM No-Hitters #77

2012 BBM 2nd Version "Cross Blaze" #CB058

2014 Calbee #OP-10

2015 BBM Dragons #D02


Zippy Zappy said...

I wish I could say that Kawakami's departure means the Dragons can finally use a rotation spot to better develop their young SP's, but they'll find a way to mess it up. You can count on it.

Anyway, pretty nice career overall for the guy who had absolutely no luck whatsoever in 2011. Although the title of the most effective Japanese Dragons pitcher to make it stateside may belong to Wei-Yin Chen at this point.

NPB Card Guy said...

Kawakami really hadn't been taking up a rotation spot for the Dragons since 2008 so I don't see there being any difference in their ability to develop pitching. Or lack of said ability.

I agree with you on Chen being the most effective former Dragons pitcher in MLB. Not sure there's anyone other than Chen and Kawakami in that category though.