Seasons With Braves: 1976-1978; 1980-1985
Stats With Braves: 56-49, 3.37 ERA, 57 Svs
I now think that this is probably a little too high. Camp is one of the few native Georgians — maybe the only one — on this list, drafted out of West Georgia in the seventh round in 1974. He’s also, I believe, the only retired player on the list who played only with the Braves. Primarily, but not exclusively, a starter in the minors, he tore his way up to Richmond in two years and got a brief callup in 1976. In 1977, he was up to stay. His ERAs in his first two full seasons aren’t very impressive (4.00 and 3.75) but these were years when a lot of runs were being scored in the Launching Pad.
Late in 1978 or in spring of 1979, Rick’s right arm went bad. He missed all of 1979 except for 22 games in Richmond. But he came back strong in 1980, throwing 108 1/3 relief innings (off an arm injury, mind you) and saving 22 games with a 1.94 ERA. The next season he threw just 76 innings with 17 saves but with an even lower ERA, 1.78, and went 9-3. The save totals aren’t as impressive, but it’s probably as good of a two-year sequence as Wohlers or Smoltz as the closer.
Camp started the 1982 season in the bullpen, but he struggled some. Torre moved him into the rotation in June, and he pitched really well; in 21 starts, he had a 3.53 ERA, though only a 7-10 record to show for it. The next season, he began as a starter but struggled, only to move back to the pen where he put up a 2.10 ERA. He was shut down in September, which didn’t help the Braves’ efforts to catch the Dodgers. In 1984, he again started in the pen but was moved to the rotation, and had a good season again, 8-6 with a 3.27 ERA. And in 1985, he made just a couple of token starts and was mostly in the bullpen. As you probably know, he hit an 18th inning home run to tie the July 4 extra-inning game against the Mets that year, only to lose the game in the next inning.
Camp threw a ton of relief innings that year, winding up with a 3.95 ERA, just worse than the context. It was the only worse than park-adjusted average ERA of Camp’s career, except for his cup of coffee in 1976. It was the last season of his career, as the Braves released him in spring of 1986. I don’t know why, but I’d guess his arm was hurt.