Kenichi Nakata (中田 賢一)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 171 lb.
- School Kyushu Community College
- High School Fukuoka Yawata High School
Kenichi Nakata has pitched for several years in Nippon Pro Baseball.
In college, Nakata struck out 300 batters, won a MVP and led his league in wins. In a doubleheader his senior year, he pitched 20 innings over the course of a day, with 310 pitches. Chunichi Dragons scout Muneo Nakada told other teams he was related to Nakata, so they didn't go for him before Chunichi got him in the second round in the 2004 draft.
Kenichi became the first Chunichi hurler to straight from the amateur ranks to the starting rotation since Kenshin Kawakami in 1998. In 2005, he was 8-3 with a 3.63 ERA. He turned in a 7-4, 3.91 record with one save in 2006, striking out 111 in 112 2/3 IP. He started game four of the 2006 Japan Series, allowing one run in the third (on a triple by Hichori Morimoto and a double by Kensuke Tanaka) before getting yanked after four. Chunichi lost the game, 3-0, to Satoru Kanemura and the Nippon Ham Fighters, and wound up falling in five contests.
Nakata had a 14-8, 3.59 record in 2007 with 177 strikeouts and 81 walks in 170 1/3 innings. He led the Central League in walks (22 more than runner-up Kan Otake) and wild pitches (13), but also made the CL All-Star team. He was 10th in ERA (right behind future major leaguers Kawakami and Hiroki Kuroda), tied for second in wins (with Tetsuya Utsumi and Hisanori Takahashi, behind only Seth Greisinger), was 8th in innings, tied for fourth in complete games (3), was 9th in hits allowed (158) and was second in strikeouts (only three behind Utsumi). After Kawakami dropped game one of the 2007 Japan Series to Nippon Ham, Kenichi started game two and dominated, with three hits and one run (a Fernando Seguignol dinger) in eight innings in a win. Chunichi swept the next three games to take its first Japan Series title in 53 years.
Nakata faded to 7-9, 4.65 with a .293 opponent average in 2008 and led the CL with 11 hit batsmen (tied with three others). He did fan 126, fourth in the circuit, but gave up 79 runs, second to Otake. He improved to 5-4, 3.44 in 13 games in 2009, presumably sidelined by injury. He was 7-4 with a 2.90 ERA in 2010.