Every year, some analyst — be it Peter Gammons, Buster Olney, Ken Rosenthal — picks the Reds as the trendy “surprise contender for the upcoming season.” Seriously, I think the Reds have been tarred with that label almost every year over the recent “lost decade.” And every year, what happens?

Right, the Reds lose and lose and lose. And Chad’s hair gets thinner and thinner and thinner. And Chad beats his head against the wall until he begins to refer to himself in the third person.

I tire of it.

However, I’m just as guilty as the next guy of getting all optimistic again every spring. Now, guess what? Yep, right on cue, here’s Dave Cameron — one of my favorite baseball writers — over at FanGraphs:

Pretty much every year, there’s a team that the projection systems are optimistic about, relative to the general feel of baseball fans and analysts at large. This year, it looks like that team may be the Reds, who haven’t been seriously talked about as contenders by too many folks, but who look like they could be pretty good on paper.

Despite winning just 78 games last year, there’s quite a bit of talent on the roster. Scott Rolen and Brandon Phillips are established All-Star caliber players, while Joey Votto certainly looks like a guy who should be able to perform at that kind of level, given how well he played in 2009. Beyond just those three, the roster is littered with upside. …

The Reds have the makings of a pretty good team in 2010. We shouldn’t be all that surprised to find them right in the thick of things come September.

Go read the entire post; it’s enough to make you feel all warm inside.