Braves history: Kenshin Kawakami wasn't as bad as you remember

The Atlanta Braves did Kenshin Kawakami dirty. He wasn't as bad as you think.
Arizona Diamondbacks v Atlanta Braves
Arizona Diamondbacks v Atlanta Braves / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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In 2009, the Atlanta Braves dipped into the Japanese market for the first (and to this day only) time, signing starting pitcher, Kenshin Kawakami, to a three-year, $23 million deal.

Two years later, he was marooned in Mississippi after two disappointing seasons with Atlanta and never returned to the major leagues again.

However, despite being remembered as a bust, Kawakami wasn't nearly as bad as you remember, and he was done dirty by the Braves front office.

Kenshin Kawakami was an ace in Japan

Prior to joining Atlanta, Kawakami pitched 11 seasons in the NPB, all with the Chunichi Dragons, and had a career 3.22 ERA. He was a six-time All-Star, a three-time Golden Glove recipient, won the 1998 Rookie of the Year, and won the 2004 MVP and Eiji Sawamura Award (the equivalent to the Cy Young Award).

Kawakami had a 2.30 ERA in 2008, although he was limited to just 117.1 innings. After the season, he became a free agent and prioritized coming to the U.S.

"In January, he got his wish when the Braves signed him to a three-year, $23 million contract.

"With Kenshin," Braves GM, Frank Wren said, "we have acquired a pitcher who will be an integral part of our pitching staff over the next three seasons."

Unfortunately, that did not end up being true.