Pitch Location and Strikes - Inside Outside vs. Down

How important is it to pitch the ball down in the strike zone? I am coaching a 12U team that has 4 pitchers on it that do not throw very hard. My understanding is that if you pitch the ball down and it is hit you have a better chance of making a play on the ball in the infield? Is this true and are there any statistic numbers that support this?

Since my pitchers are not going to blow the ball past the good hitting teams, I would much rather them miss close to the strike zone (preferably down) than pitching the ball right down the middle. Is this the right approach?
I also think working the count ( 2-2, 3-2, 2-1 ) is much better than giving up a hit when the pitch count on the batter is low.

Does anyone know of any baseball statistic or books that support this approach to pitching?

I don’t have any statistics or books for you but I do believe it is generally accepted that keeping pitches low in the zone is a good way to induce grounders (especially when combined with movement and changing speeds).

Make sure your pitchers learn to change speeds as that can help offset their lack of velocity.

It certainly helps if your pitchers keep the ball low, besides for more ground balls I think you get more strike calls from the umpire if the ball is low. Of course the more important thing is to throw strikes, sometimes you will get an ump that just won’t give you that strike, pitchers have to adjust to what they are going to give you. Sometimes all you get is a dinner plate right in the middle and the pitchers have to work around that zone. So keep the ball in the bottom part of what the ump is calling strikes and like Roger said change speeds.

It certainly helps if your pitchers keep the ball low, besides for more ground balls I think you get more strike calls from the umpire if the ball is low. Of course the more important thing is to throw strikes, sometimes you will get an ump that just won’t give you that strike, pitchers have to adjust to what they are going to give you. Sometimes all you get is a dinner plate right in the middle and the pitchers have to work around that zone. So keep the ball in the bottom part of what the ump is calling strikes and like Roger said change speeds.

my son pitches also and he keeps the ball down,the problem is that some umps call them strikes and some don’t,i can tell it bothers him and then he gets into trying to place the ball and here comes the walks,is there anything you can tell a 10 year old to help him deal with this.

Your son simply needs to learn that the umpire detemines the strike zone and it is his job to figure out that strike zone and to do so quicker than the opposing pitcher.

Ahhh…the good old days, many moons ago, when I pitched, and there was a big wide strike zone and plenty of room to maneuver…the strike zone, according to the rule book, was between the knees and just below the shoulders, and the umpires called the pitches as they saw them, and it was much easier. Nowadays, some umpires have such a narrow strike zone they might as well have none at all!
I remember a story about a movie being made, and there was a scene at a baseball game—and the one non-actor in that scene was the umpire, I think it was Bill Klem. The pitcher wound up and threw, and Klem yelled “Strike one!” The director hollered “Cut” and came running up to the umpire and chewed him out for not following the script; the pitch was supposed to be a ball. Klem roared back at the director: "Tell the pitcher to follow the script! I call them as I see them."
Anyhoo, we pitchers, from little league to the majors, have to make the adjustments…